Monday, December 27, 2010

Monday music: "Sinfonia," from Handel's Messiah — plus some thoughts


I love Messiah, and love a well-done Sinfonia. For one thing, I simply like it. For another... Messiah is starting.

The third involves me imagining myself in Handel's thoughts, and here your mileage may vary. (Pardon my musically-inexact terminology; you'll know what I mean.)

The movement starts out with some very sonorous chords. I imagine that they are meant to call to attention, and perhaps to call to mind Genesis 1:1—3:14.

Then it all pauses, and a lone melody strikes out, sounded by one or more violins in unison. I hear that as Genesis 3:15, the first Messianic prophecy. It soon is joined by other lines, which interplay in and out as the music becomes progressively complex. This brings to my mind the addition of more Messianic prophecies, of types and shadows and institutions which with greater richness point forward to Jesus Christ.

Then the whole ends, and out comes the prophecy of John the Baptist, Messiah's herald.

Love it, love it.

8 comments:

Stan McCullars said...

The most expressive oboe player I've ever seen.

That Handel guy was pretty good! ;)

David Regier said...

A baroque Stevie Wonder head-bob on the harpsichord. Awesome.

Years back, a friend overheard one one of his church's hired violinists say, "It's so beautiful, you almost want to believe it's true."

DJP said...

Who knows? God could use that as a starting-point. I had that same feeling in general about Christ-honoring Christmas carols when I was an unbeliever.

Sir Aaron said...

"The third involves me imagining myself in Handel's thoughts"

From what I've read of him and what I know of you, I doubt much imagining is necessary. It seems to me that you two have some common personality traits.

But we'll have to wait another forty years to see if anybody has to preach every Sunday for more than a year against the secular performance of your work. (a reference to John Newton for those who don't know).

Herding Grasshoppers said...

I listen to it all year :D

Liked the harpsichord player - he's doing a lot of directing through head-bobs and (unseen) facial expressions, I bet!

While I like to hear Messiah done well, there's a deeper richness to it when it's performed by believers.

Looking forward to Easter, right? And the Lenten Messiah?!

Julie

Susan said...

Okay, I'm on my cell phone, and it's not an iPhone, so I can't watch your vid, but I do find your "interpretion" of the sinfonia interesting. When I hear the Sinfonia, I see it in light of His Passion (even though in terms of the pieces' sequence in the oratorio, Jesus hasn't been born yet). Perhaps it is because of the minor key and the darker notes in the beginning that makes me think this way. The lone violin that follows and the rest of the piece lightens up eventually, even though the piece remains in minor key. It gives me a feeling of a dark cloud (Jesus was born to be our propitiation) with a silver lining (His death brought blessing for us). I'm just glad that as oratorio ends with a big "WHOMP!!!" ("Worthy is the Lamb that was slain....) Hmm...that's from Revelation, so I guess your Genesis beginning fits, Dan. :)

candy said...

I love Handel's Messiah. My students have to listen to it while they do art in school. I think it does not matter who performs it, it still glorifies God and I get touched every time that parts of it are played in public places. Who knows what God may use to touch a person's heart. I am curious about the John Newton comment. Can you expound on that Sir Aaron?

Susan said...

Oh boy, I gotta learn my lesson:

1. Don't post comments from a cell phone (because "thumbing" the words can make bad grammar/spelling even worse); and

2. Don't post comments before I watch the video (because I can say things that aren't accurate).

The bad grammar/spelling is plainly seen. The inaccuracy lies in my stating the lone violin follows the dark notes. For some reason I've always thought it was a lone violin (maybe it's my CD?), but after watching the video (and another one on Youtube to verify), it looks like there are at least 2 violins. If I can find my score I'll know for sure. (Sorry, I sang in the soprano section and did not play with the orchestra, so I don't remember the orchestra parts at all.)

And while we're on the subject of inaccuracy, I might as well as make another correction on my comment the other day (on Dan's other "Messiah" post). I had said the contraltos were men--dead wrong. Contraltos can only be female voices, whereas the alto part can be sung by both male and female. Sorry, I'm only a music enthusiast and not a fully-trained musician, not to mention my memory is unreliable at times--my "Messiah" CD had both alto (male) and contralto (female) soloists, and I had confused the two!

(Hope my flawed comments didn't distract you from enjoying the original posts. If they did, I apologize....) :)