Monday 26 September 2022

Handel the Cosmopolitan: tenor James Way introduces The Assembled Company's new programme as part of HP Futures at St Martin-in-the-Fields

As part of HP Futures, a concert series in collaboration with St Martin-in-the-Fields and artist management company Harrison Parrott, the Assembled Company, artistic director James Way, is presenting Handel the Cosmopolitan at St Martin-in-the-Fields on 8 October 2022, with Rachel Podger (violin), Rowan Pierce (soprano) and James Way (tenor) in a programme that combines Handel's Nine German Arias and his cantata Caro autor di mia doglia. Here James Way introduces the programme.

The programme started out with a desire to promote the wonderful music of Handel’s Nine German Arias. One of the most common comments about this work is that it’s one of the few things Handel wrote in his native tongue. But what happens if we remove that single feature and present the Arias in a new English translation?

Having recently performed Schubert's Winterreise and Wolf's Italian Song Book in translations by Jeremy Sams, I had begun to enjoy the new perspective that performing English translations brings. This reframing of well-known pieces allows regular audiences to hear a familiar work in a new way, it often invites new audiences in and, last but by no means least, forces the performers to reconsider their interpretations.

For this concert the Nine German Arias are also split between tenor and soprano, instead of chopping them up with instrumental music, as is often done. This change of voice between movements lends a new, almost conversational nature to the piece.

The second half takes us to Handel in another, and this time unchanged, language — Italian.

Some of his lesser performed duet cantatas will be familiar to some because they contain musical material later repurposed for the Messiah. Fantastic works in their own rights and often performed by two sopranos, on this occasion we present them for soprano and tenor.

These are followed by his cantata Caro autor di mia doglia HWV182a, a remarkable piece written during Handel’s first stay in Italy, which epitomises so much of the the style we associate with Handel’s Italian works: intertwining voices often wrought with thinly veiled heartbreak and intense emotion.

The Assembled Company are a group of musicians brought together by James Way whose goal of producing vivid and creative performances is underpinned by the spirit of collaboration.

Handel the Cosmopolitan - Saturday 8 October 2022, 7.30pm, St Martin-in-the-Fields - Rachel Podger (violin), Rowan Pierce (soprano), James Way (director/tenor), The Assembled Company - further details from the church's website 

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