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Thread: Realised continuo part to Handel's Messiah?

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    Default Realised continuo part to Handel's Messiah?

    I realise this is something of a long shot, but here goes:

    I'm conducting a performance of Mozart's arrangement of Handel's Messiah in the UK's East Midlands in March. The ancient set of orchestral parts we're using doesn't have a realised continuo part - or indeed any continuo part at all. I've also tried online, without success. Does anyone have such a part, or know where I might lay my hands on one? It doesn't have to be specifically for Mozart's arrangement; Handel's original version would do just as well. I'm also waiting to hear from our local music library. NB: it has to be a realised continuo part, not just a figured bass line.

    Thanks

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    Senior Member DrKilroy's Avatar
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    It is here.

    Best regards, Dr
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrKilroy View Post
    It is here.

    Best regards, Dr
    Thanks, Dr - I've came across this one, and have considered using it. Problem is, we have just a keyboard for a continuo, so no pedals. That's not necessarily an insuperable problem. Our keyboard player could just play on the manuals and omit bits from the left hand as necessary, but I guess it would have to be done with great care.

    It's a strange version, isn't it? The accompanied recits are omitted, the seccos are in, and random arias also seem to be omitted. I wonder what kind of performance it was actually intended for? The omitted numbers can't have been cuts in the performance, surely: who on earth would cut the very first vocal number, "Comfort ye", and the three numbers from "Thy rebuke - which is the emotional turning point of the whole oratorio? But then, why wouldn't the organ play in these and other numbers?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Anselm View Post
    Thanks, Dr - I've came across this one, and have considered using it. Problem is, we have just a keyboard for a continuo, so no pedals. That's not necessarily an insuperable problem. Our keyboard player could just play on the manuals and omit bits from the left hand as necessary, but I guess it would have to be done with great care.
    Get a pocket score published by Dover publications, New York. The continuo part is written for a keyboard and though It's not Mozart's arrangement as far as I know, but you may get some idea comparing this to Mozart's own style in continuo-writing in his vocal works like Requiem for example.
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    Thanks - I'll try that. My librarian did mention that he had a Prout organ part. I don't know what that's like - perhaps it's the same one that Dr linked to above. I'm not so worried about the differences in continuo style between Handel and Mozart - I doubt if our performance will be sophisticated enough for that to matter. The only real difference is in "The trumpet shall sound", which Mozart cut heavily.

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    Your closest, large conservatorium of music should have one of these.

    I'm intrigued to know why Mozart arranged the Handel work in the first place!

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    Quote Originally Posted by CountenanceAnglaise View Post
    ....

    I'm intrigued to know why Mozart arranged the Handel work in the first place!
    To bring it "up to date". He also arranged Acis and Galatea, the Ode for St Cecilia's Day and Alexander's Feast. That was standard practice - music was performed according to current performance practice. For the centenary celebrations of Handel's birth in 1784 (yes, 1784 - they got the year wrong!), the performance at Westminster Abbey was given in a huge performance with hundreds of (presumably amateur) singers and orchestral players, which reflected current expectations. Mozart made his arrangement in 1789, by which time his audience expected their orchestras to include flutes and horns, and even clarinets, with bassoons being used melodically and as the bass of the separate wind choir, not just to double the string basses. So that's what Mozart gave them. Handel's own practice of a basically four-part string orchestra with oboes doubling the upper strings and bassoons the lower would have been regarded as outmoded.

    It's interesting that Mozart arranged Handel's oratorios, which were obviously still being performed in whatever manner, but not his operas. In the latter case, not just the orchestral garb but the whole form was outmoded, and had therefore sunk without trace.

    Thanks for the suggestion about the nearest Conservatoire. In my case that's Birmingham, about 80 miles away, but I'll give it a whirl.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Anselm View Post
    To bring it "up to date". He also arranged Acis and Galatea, the Ode for St Cecilia's Day and Alexander's Feast. That was standard practice - music was performed according to current performance practice. For the centenary celebrations of Handel's birth in 1784 (yes, 1784 - they got the year wrong!), the performance at Westminster Abbey was given in a huge performance with hundreds of (presumably amateur) singers and orchestral players, which reflected current expectations. Mozart made his arrangement in 1789, by which time his audience expected their orchestras to include flutes and horns, and even clarinets, with bassoons being used melodically and as the bass of the separate wind choir, not just to double the string basses. So that's what Mozart gave them. Handel's own practice of a basically four-part string orchestra with oboes doubling the upper strings and bassoons the lower would have been regarded as outmoded.

    It's interesting that Mozart arranged Handel's oratorios, which were obviously still being performed in whatever manner, but not his operas. In the latter case, not just the orchestral garb but the whole form was outmoded, and had therefore sunk without trace.

    Thanks for the suggestion about the nearest Conservatoire. In my case that's Birmingham, about 80 miles away, but I'll give it a whirl.
    Absolutely fascinating and here we are doing the reverse - applying HIP sensibilities to work, in that endless search for "authenticity". Well, I wonder what "version" of "The Messiah" Haydn would have heard on one of his London trips in the very late 18th century?? I'm absolutely intrigued.

    I'm presenting a 90 minute lecture on "The Art of Transcription" for the University of the Third Age (self-education group for retirees run by volunteers who are 'experts'!) and your ideas have provided yet another dimension. But I am constrained by the 90 minutes and also the fact that my audience ranges from people who barely know the meaning of the word "baroque" through to musicians and two retired Professors of Music Education!! I usually research and write about 4-5,000 words and then use plenty of musical examples, or have one of the musicians play some bars while I argue a particular point.

    Best of luck with your performance!

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    Quote Originally Posted by CountenanceAnglaise View Post

    Best of luck with your performance!
    And with your talk. It sounds as if you need it more than me (although I still suspect I'd like to swap jobs with you!)

    There's another layer of HIP, of course: recent period instrument performances of Mozart's arrangements of Messiah. Is your head ready to explode yet?

    For your 90 minute lecture, are you tackling the transcription from a non-musical form to a musical one - e.g. Beaumarchais' Figaro trilogy of plays and the operatic adaptations of two of them by Mozart and Rossini, or Hartmann's paintings and drawings that inspired Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition? Or is that "A Bridge Too Far"?

    ;-)

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