2.11.2011

Different Flavors of Exaltation



And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying...
--Handel, Messiah

Above Him stood the Seraphim and one cried to another...
--Mendelssohn, Elijah
Picture
Though the topic of recitative in these two oratorios could constitute a very lengthy book and months of engrossing analysis, I'd like to highlight the two examples above. Handel's, accompanied by trembling strings, explode in the well-loved chorus: "Glory to God, glory to God, in the highest and peace on earth." Mendelssohn's text is unaccompanied and rather than spilling into immediate exuberance, powerfully extends the drama with a ricarcare-like melody in one voice, repeated by a female quartet at piano, and then blasted with full choir/orchestra/timpani roll at forte.
Lovely suspension of my expectations.

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