Page:Romain Rolland Handel.djvu/96

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to the time of Gluck and Mozart. Whilst Handel, despite his marvellous feeling for plastic beauty, often treated the voices as an instrument, and in his development the beautiful Italian lines occasionally became weighed down by German complexity, Porpora's music always kept within the bounds of classic purity, though the form was a little uninteresting in design. History has never done him sufficient justice.[1] He was quite worthy of measuring himself against Handel, and the comparison between Handel's Arianna and that of Porpora, played at an interval of a few weeks,[2] did not prove to the advantage of the former. Handel's music is elegant, but one does not find the breadth of certain airs in Porpora's Arianna à Naxos. The form of these airs is perhaps of too classic a correctness, but the right Grecian breezes blow across his Roman temples.[3] He has been claimed as an Italian disciple of Gluck—a curious criticism which is bestowed occasionally on precursors. It was so with Jacopo della Quercia, who inspired Michael Angelo, and to whom the latter seems to owe something.

Hasse was even superior to Porpora in the charm of his melody, which Mozart alone has equalled, and in his symphonic gifts, which showed themselves in his rich instrumental accompaniments no less

  1. Chrysander, who did not know him well, speaks with a disdain absolutely unjustifiable.
  2. Handel's Arianna, January 26, 1734. Porpora's Arianna à Naxos, a little later.
  3. Thus the Invocation of Theseus to Neptune: Nume che reggi'l mare, and the air: Spetto d' orrore.