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Handel and Baroque music

Baroque music goes straight to the heart: ‘con affetto’ could well be the general heading for the period. It is hard to find another epoch in which the composers set down so many emotions with the notes in their scores. But as a period description, ‘baroque’ appears to have come from the Portuguese, in which ‘pèrola barroca’ is a rather negative reflection on the uneven pearls used in the elaborate baroque costumes.

Yet the 17th and 18th centuries gave rise to exquisite pearls of music – above all in Italy: the opulent opera that opened up completely new imaginary worlds for the audience, the cantata, the oratorio. In purely instrumental music, it brought forth the concerto, the suite and the sonata.

In all domains of Baroque music, Handel is the great ‘driver’ of emotions. His Baroque music takes as its foundation the basso continuo, in the manner of the time. The pulsing bass gives the music of this epoch its very own drive, moving and delighting audiences to this day.

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