All of Handels cantatas will finally be available to modern listeners
Handels cantatas represent an important musical repertoire that until recently has been little known. Consisting of about 100 separate works, most were written over a period of a few years for private performance in Italy. They range from musical miniatures containing only two arias connected by recitative and accompanied by continuo (a bass line typically realized by cello and harpsichord) to larger works with named characters, a dramatic story, and rich instrumental forces. Telling more often than not about the pangs of love, these are intimate works, with texts frequently written by (and sometimes about) members of the privileged audience for which they were composed. A number of Handels cantatas have texts by one of his important Italian patrons, Cardinal Benedetto Pamphilj.
The project of Marco Vitale and Brilliant Classics to record all of Handels cantatas is thrilling. The continuo cantatas have never been recorded in full and many have never been recorded at all. Thus, this project will bring to life largely unknown music by one of the worlds greatest composers. Further, performance all the cantatas will place the larger, instrumental works in the musical context of their creation.
Vitales experience and musicianship are well-matched to this ambitious project, as can be heard in his recent recording for Brilliant Classics of Handels La resurrezione, from the same period as the cantatas. In particular, his decision to use low Roman pitch and transposing winds gives the music a warm, confidential quality—so appropriate to the intimate settings in which the works were written—without sacrificing its brilliance (as one can hear in the performance of Delirio amoroso on this CD). I look forward to collaborating with Marco Vitale on this project and rejoice that all of Handels cantatas will finally be available to modern listeners.
Ellen T. Harris, Professor of Music, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Author of Handel as Orpheus: Voice and Desire in the Chamber Cantatas