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Handel In The Playhouse

Handel / L'avventura London / Ozmo
Release Date: 12/08/2009 
Label:  Opella Nova   Catalog #: 14   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Gregory TassellMary Bevan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  L'Avventura London
Number of Discs: 1 
Length: 0 Hours 52 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



HANDEL IN THE PLAYHOUSE Žak Ozmo, cond; Mary Bevan (sop); Greg Tassell (ten); L’Avventura London (period instruments) OPELLA NOVA 014 (52:15 Text and Translation)


John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera , premiered in 1728, established a new type of theatrical entertainment known as the ballad opera. Ballad opera is a play in which spoken dialogue alternates with songs set to traditional or popular melodies. Although the author of most of these melodies is unknown, Read more some ballad opera songs were based on popular airs and instrumental works of composers such as Handel.


This recording gives us a chance to hear 22 samples of how Handel’s works were adapted for use in ballad operas of the period. The arrangers of the music for ballad operas based their songs on both vocal and instrumental selections from Handel’s works. The march of the Crusaders in Rinaldo is cited as being used in three ballad operas, and a march from Scipione in another. More frequently, the songs are based on popular arias from the operas. The selections on this recording adapt arias from Poro, Admeto, Ottone, and Floridante , as well as the oratorio La Resurrezione . Several selections are based on songs Handel wrote for insertion in other plays. Some are based on keyboard minuets or instrumental music from the Water Music . The author of the insert notes states that at least 46 ballad operas produced between 1728 and 1736, approximately half of the total, contained tunes by Handel.


The performers who wish to perform these ballad operas face a formidable editorial task. Many ballad opera texts contain no music, merely the name of a preexisting tune with the new words. Even when the music is given, it is printed separately from the text, requiring the editor to determine how the new words fit the existing music.


Žak Ozmo states in the accompanying notes that the smaller playhouses, especially in the provinces, used a small orchestra of five to seven players, and he restricts himself to six players for this recording. Jeremy Barlow in his recording of The Beggar’s Opera uses a larger group of 16 instruments. Barlow states that the usual orchestra consisted of strings with oboes and continuo. Ozmo is in basic agreement, stating that the average orchestra consisted of various combinations of violin, cello, recorder, oboe, harpsichord, and plucked instruments (the latter being the instruments he plays). Although all of the members of L’Avventura London are expert and play well, I wish that Ozmo had used a larger band, such as Barlow’s, which could have been expected in the larger playhouses. Also, I wonder if plucked instruments were used as frequently as Ozmo claims (either archlute or Baroque guitar is used in every selection).


At their beginning, ballad operas were cast with actors rather than established singers. However, many of the singers had very good voices, and some, such as the tenor John Beard, went on to sing in Handel’s oratorios. This recording features two singers who have very fine voices, indeed. Both have wide experience in the opera and concert. Mary Bevan has been featured in music from Monteverdi to Rossini, while Greg Tassell’s experience extends from Monteverdi to Puccini. They are not required to display much of a range of emotions in these selections, but they sing well and seem to be having a good time.


In addition to the vocal selections, Ozmo includes seven instrumental selections that he states would have been performed between the acts. The Crusaders’ march from Rinaldo is one of these, although in The Beggar’s Opera it is an amusing song for Macheath and the members of his gang, set to the words “Let us take the road / Hark! I hear the sound of coaches! / The hour of attack approaches, / To your arms, brave boys, and load. / See the ball I hold! / Let the chymists toil like asses, / Our fire their fire surpasses, / And turns all our lead to gold.” But performing it would have required hiring more singers for a chorus. At least there are recordings of The Beggar’s Opera for those who would like to hear Handel’s tunes in context.


It is interesting and amusing to see how some of Handel’s contemporaries used his music in other contexts. I thoroughly enjoyed this recording, and I think you will too.


FANFARE: Ron Salemi
Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Rinaldo, HWV 7: Grand March by George Frideric Handel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  L'Avventura London
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1711; London, England 
Venue:  London, England at All Saints' Church, E 
Length: 1 Minutes 11 Secs. 
2.
Poro, Rè dell'Indie, HWV 28: Some confounded Planet reigning by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Gregory Tassell (), Mary Bevan ()
Orchestra/Ensemble:  L'Avventura London
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1731; Italy 
Venue:  London, England at All Saints' Church, E 
Length: 3 Minutes 38 Secs. 
3.
Admeto, Rè di Tessaglia, HWV 22: Smile, smile, my Chloe, smile by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Gregory Tassell ()
Orchestra/Ensemble:  L'Avventura London
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1727 
Venue:  London, England at All Saints' Church, E 
Length: 2 Minutes 31 Secs. 
4.
The little wanton god, HWV 228 no 14 by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Mary Bevan ()
Orchestra/Ensemble:  L'Avventura London
Period: Romantic 
Venue:  London, England at All Saints' Church, E 
Length: 3 Minutes 59 Secs. 
5.
Sonata for Recorder and Basso Continuo in C major, HWV 365/Op. 1 no 7: Allegro by George Frideric Handel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  L'Avventura London
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1726-1732; London, England 
Venue:  London, England at All Saints' Church, E 
Length: 2 Minutes 1 Secs. 
6.
La resurrezione, HWV 47: In vain, in vain, I rove by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Gregory Tassell ()
Orchestra/Ensemble:  L'Avventura London
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1708; Italy 
Venue:  London, England at All Saints' Church, E 
Length: 1 Minutes 46 Secs. 
7.
Water Music Suite no 3 in G major, HWV 350: no 4, Gigue by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Gregory Tassell ()
Orchestra/Ensemble:  L'Avventura London
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1715-1717; London, England 
Venue:  London, England at All Saints' Church, E 
Length: 1 Minutes 25 Secs. 
8.
Ottone, HWV 15: Was ever a man possest by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Mary Bevan ()
Orchestra/Ensemble:  L'Avventura London
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1722 
Venue:  London, England at All Saints' Church, E 
Length: 3 Minutes 35 Secs. 
9.
Why you little blind Contriver. HWV 228 no 22 by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Gregory Tassell ()
Orchestra/Ensemble:  L'Avventura London
Period: Romantic 
Venue:  London, England at All Saints' Church, E 
Length: 1 Minutes 19 Secs. 
10.
Rinaldo, HWV 7: Overture by George Frideric Handel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  L'Avventura London
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1711; London, England 
Venue:  London, England at All Saints' Church, E 
Length: 5 Minutes 1 Secs. 
11.
Work(s): Away with Suspicion, HWV 542 by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Gregory Tassell ()
Orchestra/Ensemble:  L'Avventura London
Period: Baroque 
Venue:  London, England at All Saints' Church, E 
Length: 1 Minutes 44 Secs. 
12.
Scipione, HWV 20: Brave boys prepare by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Mary Bevan ()
Orchestra/Ensemble:  L'Avventura London
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1726; Italy 
Venue:  London, England at All Saints' Church, E 
Length: 3 Minutes 21 Secs. 
13.
Sonata for Oboe and Basso Continuo in F major, HWV 363a/Op. 1 no 5 - 4th movement, Bourrée by George Frideric Handel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  L'Avventura London
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1714 
Venue:  London, England at All Saints' Church, E 
Length: 0 Minutes 57 Secs. 
14.
Hence with tedious dull repining, HWV 228 no 4 by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Gregory Tassell ()
Orchestra/Ensemble:  L'Avventura London
Period: Romantic 
Venue:  London, England at All Saints' Church, E 
Length: 1 Minutes 46 Secs. 
15.
Water Music Suite no 1 in F major, HWV 348: Excerpt(s) by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Mary Bevan ()
Orchestra/Ensemble:  L'Avventura London
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1715-1717; London, England 
Venue:  London, England at All Saints' Church, E 
Length: 1 Minutes 36 Secs. 
16.
Theme and Variations for Harp in G minor [spurious] by George Frideric Handel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  L'Avventura London
Period: Baroque 
Venue:  London, England at All Saints' Church, E 
Length: 3 Minutes 28 Secs. 
17.
Partenope, HWV 27: Do not ask me if I love you by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Mary Bevan ()
Orchestra/Ensemble:  L'Avventura London
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1730 
Venue:  London, England at All Saints' Church, E 
Length: 3 Minutes 13 Secs. 
18.
Poro, Rè dell'Indie, HWV 28: Grant Mars, grant us thy fires by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Gregory Tassell (), Mary Bevan ()
Orchestra/Ensemble:  L'Avventura London
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1731; Italy 
Venue:  London, England at All Saints' Church, E 
Length: 1 Minutes 47 Secs. 
19.
Water Music Suite no 3 in G major, HWV 350: no 2, Rigaudon by George Frideric Handel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  L'Avventura London
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1715-1717; London, England 
Venue:  London, England at All Saints' Church, E 
Length: 2 Minutes 43 Secs. 
20.
Floridante, HWV 14: Women in vain...Love's powerful torrent by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Gregory Tassell ()
Orchestra/Ensemble:  L'Avventura London
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1721 
Venue:  London, England at All Saints' Church, E 
Length: 2 Minutes 27 Secs. 

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