The aria “Tune your harps” from Handel’s oratorio Esther. Thomas Cooley, tenor; Marc Schachman, baroque oboe. Ultra high definition video from the Voices of Music “As steals the morn” concert, March, 2019.
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In this aria, Handel skillfully creates a duet in which the singer has the main melody, and the oboe part has a dual role. The oboe alternates as a second singer, repeating or elaborating on the main melody using the rhythm of the text, and, at other times, providing an instrumental counterpoint, playing notes that would make no sense if sung, but which fit perfectly with the harmony. Handel seamlessly alternates from one style to the other to to create a deceptively simple but remarkably complex composition. The pizzicato accompaniment in the strings evokes the character of the harp which is the theme of the text as well as the symbol of the throne.
Voices of Music
Hanneke van Proosdij & David Tayler, directors
Lisa Grodin, Toma Iliev, Carla Moore, Maxine Nemerovski,
Linda Quan, Gabrielle Wunsch, baroque violin
Adaiha MacAdam-Somer & Elisabeth Reed, baroque cello
Farley Pearce, violone
Hanneke van Proosdij, baroque organ
David Tayler, archlute
Tune your harps to cheerful strains,
Moulder idols into dust!
Great Jehovah lives and reigns,
We in great Jehovah trust.
Tune your harps. . .