Performance Wednesday, November 19, 2014 | 7:30 PM

London Handel Players

Handel at Home

Weill Recital Hall
Handel’s chamber music is featured alongside delightful arrangements for flute and strings of favorite passages from his stage works. Handel’s publisher recognized a demand for play-at-home instrumental versions of hit tunes from the composer’s operas and oratorios, so he arranged some of the most popular music. These arrangements, as well as versions by London Handel Players’ flutist Rachel Brown, anchor this spirited look at 18th-century music making.

Part of Salon Encores.


  • London Handel Players
    ·· Rachel Brown, Flute and Recorder
    ·· Adrian Butterfield, Violin
    ·· Laurence Cummings, Harpsichord


  • Trio Sonata in A Major, HWV 396
  • Violin Sonata in D Major, HWV 371
  • Opera Arias (arr. John Walsh)
    ·· "O sleep, why dost thou leave me?" from Semele
    ·· "No, no! I'll take no less" from Semele
    ·· "Tornami a vagheggiar" from Alcina
  • Flute Sonata in B Minor, HWV 367b
  • Harpsichord Suite No. 5 in E Major, HWV 430
  • Trio Sonata in F Major, HWV 389


"No, no! I'll take no less" from Handel's Semele
Rachel Brown, Flute | London Handel Players

At a Glance

Opera was central to Handel’s career for more than three decades, so it’s fitting that three operatic aria arrangements are the centerpiece of tonight’s program of instrumental music. The composer’s first opera, Almira, was staged in Hamburg in 1705 when the composer was just 19 years old. He took his final bow on the operatic stage in 1741 with the London production of Deidamia, a lightweight mythological love story based on the early life of Achilles. For most of the intervening years, Handel’s reputation as an opera composer was second to none.

Handel’s operatic genius lies in his deft handling of dramatic situations, his sensitive limning of characters’ emotions, and his vivid creation of atmosphere. Some of these same qualities characterize his music in other genres, including the oratorios for which he is best known in the English-speaking world and a wide array of orchestral and chamber music. In these works, as in his operas, Handel blended sacred and secular elements in a way that appealed equally to music connoisseurs and less sophisticated audiences.

The instrumental pieces selected by the London Handel Players also illustrate Handel’s practice of borrowing his own and other composers’ music. In transforming the originals, usually for the better, he was observing the guideline laid down by German critic Johann Mattheson, who asserted that “borrowing is permissible; but one must return the thing borrowed with interest, i.e., one must so construct and develop imitations that they are prettier and better than the pieces from which they are derived.”
This performance is part of Early Music in Weill Recital Hall.

Part of