Handel’s unrivalled skill of writing great tunes – from the simplest utterance to show-stopping glories – sits at the heart of almost all of Handel’s dramatic works. Without the text, it could be claimed that any instrumental performance is a compromise too far. But how bereft we would be without the chance for instruments to imitate or replace the voice, to put our mark on a piece by exploring an expressive world of implication and beauty for its own sake?

In ‘Bel piacere’ from Agrippina, we hear the frenetic skipping of Poppea’s celebration of fidelity. The main mood here is combined with a menacing undertow; the lean and mean textures and metrical wrong footings here are also about the wiles of scheming. They lie beyond the words and sit at the heart of the music, ready to be projected in many forms.

Jonathan Freeman-Attwood

Parts included:

  • Trumpets in C
  • Piano

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