Georg Friedrich HAENDEL’s CHANDOS ANTHEMS
“Very few noblemen in Europe and none in England are leading a life as marvelous, magnificent and noble as that of the Duke of Chandos” wrote Daniel Defoe in 1725.
It was in 1717, during his stay in London, that Georg Friedrich Händel (1685-1759) was hired by James Brydges, the wealthy Duke of Chandos, who gathered around him a real court including an orchestra and a vocal ensemble. During the two short years of Händel’s stay, he composed two dramatic works (“Acis and Galatea” and «Esther») as well as a «Te Deum» and eleven anthems (or hymns) which are known as the “Chandos Anthems“.
These magnificent works manifest a sublime force and dignity that perfectly reflect the confident and hedonistic spirit of the time, as well as the splendor and nobleness that reigned around the Duke of Chandos. They remain relatively forgotten however, and for unknown reasons are absent from concert programs.
Genève Baroque is pleased to invite you to this second concert to enjoy Anthems No. 1, 5 and 6. Thusly, we will be concluding the first group’s presentation of Chandos Anthems composed for a three-part choir.
Anthem I. “O be joyful in the Lord”, HWV 246
This anthem is the musical interpretation of the 100th psalm. For this first anthem written in Cannons, Handel, who never wastes good material, used sections of “Te Deum of Utrecht” (written in 1713) to compose the introductive sonata or “sinfonia” as well as his “Utrecht Jubilate” (also from 1713 and itself based on an “Laudate pueri” from 1707) for the rest of the anthem. Cheerful patterns, pure vocals and wise counterpoint are part of these marvelous choirs. All of it enriched by a gracious duo where voices are accompanied by the oboe and a very beautiful trio drenched in soft and shifting traits of violin that foreshadow the choirs of the “Messiah” angels.
Anthem V. “I will magnify thee”, HWV 250
Composed about verses of psalms 144 and 145, this anthem, like most of the Chandos Anthems, starts with a two-part (allegro-presto) sonata or sinfonia involving this time an important oboe solo (that will be used later for its concerto for oboe in B-flat No. 2). Afterwards, very elated music will follow: a gleeful choir, a tenor solo with a minuet rhythm, a fugue chorus showing the succession of the generations then, in a grasping manner, two airs of tenor contrasting the divine gentleness for those who believe (“the lord preserveth all them that love him”) with the warning “(he) scatt’reth abroad all the ungodly” (He disperses from afar all the impious). The happiness delivered by God is chanted in an air of soprano and an air of tenor following the dancing rhythm, through brilliant vocals. All of it concluded by an “amen” chanted by the choir.
Anthem VI. “As pants the hart”, HWV 251
The text is taken from the 42nd psalm. First destined to the Royal Chapel, it was probably composed in 1712, a little after the arrival of Handel to England. For the Brydges chapel, the master recomposed the solo movements but conserved some choirs, by opting for the organ accompaniment for the orchestra of Cannons. After the usual two-part sonata, the momentum of the soul towards the divinity expresses itself in a severe polyphonic choir as well as in a taste of soprano with oboe, a bassoon solo and an expressive tenor accompagnato backed up by violin arpeggios. After polyphonic praise, a duo of soprano and tenor is delivered by the violins and the oboe. An ascending melody and tenor vocals, translating the faith in God, foreshadow the theme of the last chorus.
Genève Baroque is pleased to share this marvelous music, not very known but still noble, beautiful and enchanting.
Lisandro Abadie (1)
(1) Soloists , Anthem No. 1
(2) Soloists, Anthem No. 5
(3) Soloists, Anthem No. 6