The Et in Terra Pax movement from G.F. Handel’s Gloria. Live video from the San Francisco based early music ensemble Voices of Music, with Laura Heimes, soprano. Featuring Carla Moore and Sara Usher, baroque violins; Farley Pearce, baroque cello, John Dornenburg, violone; Katherine Heater, baroque organ; Hanneke van Proosdij, harpsichord; David Tayler, archlute
Handel’s Gloria probably dates from the first decade of the 18th century, when Handel was in Rome. One of his most beautiful sacred compositions for solo soprano and strings, the slow movement, Et in Terra Pax (peace on earth) is built upon plain, homophonic chords in the manner of the slow movement of a Vivaldi concerto, here performed with affetuoso bowing. Over this simple chordal texture, Handel weaves a descant that creates a numinous litany gliding among and then above the strings. It is conjecture, but perhaps Handel wrote the Gloria for Margherita Durastanti, who starred in several of his most successful productions around 1707 in Rome.