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Chapter 10: Baroque Vocal Music

Oratorio

Key Terms
• • • • oratorio chorus secco recitative accompanied recitative

Baroque Sacred Music
• placed special emphasis on choir • borrowed from secular music (opera)
– recitative and aria – virtuoso solo singing

• oratorio the most operatic genre

Oratorio
• basically an opera on a religious subject
– often an Old Testament story – narrative plot in several acts – real characters and implied action – recitatives and arias

• presented in concert form
– no scenery, costumes, staging, or gestures

• incorporated many more choruses than opera

Baroque Chorus
• similar to Renaissance choral music
– alternating polyphony and homophony – some text painting

• incorporates theatrical features
– narrates story, comments on action, participates in action – dramatic contrasts and rests – voices and orchestra for maximum fullness

Handel, Messiah
• Handel’s most famous work • composed in only 23 days • unlike other oratorios
– not a real “story” – anonymous narrators and commentators

• text entirely from Bible
– episodes from Jesus’s life (recitative) – comments on episodes (recitative, aria, and chorus)

Recitative, “There were shepherds”
• angels announce Christ’s birth • recitative in four parts
– alternating secco and accompanied

• accompanied recitative reserved for dramatic moments • parts 3 and 4 accelerate the pace

Chorus, “Glory to God”
• recitative and chorus • choir participates in the action • vivid contrasts in musical settings of the three phrases

Chorus, “Glory to God”
• “Glory to God in the highest”
– high voices, high pitches, rhythmic unison, – energetic, marchlike

• “and peace on earth”
– low voices, low pitches, nearly monophonic – slow, soft, calm, simple, unadorned

• “good will toward men”
– fugal style, imitative entrances – motive intensified in ascending – sequence

Recitative and Chorus
Recitative:
There were shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night. And lo! The angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them; and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them: Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

Recitative and Chorus
And suddenly there was with the angle a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying:

Chorus:
Glory to God in the highest! And peace on earth. Glory to God in the highest! And peace on earth. Good will toward men. Glory to God in the highest. And peace on earth. Good will toward men.

Handel, Hallelujah Chorus
• famous chorus ends Part II • contrasting textures for each phrase
– homophony:

– monophony: “For the Lord God” – polyphony:

Hallelujah Chorus
• many dramatic moments • “The Kingdom of this world is become”
– piano, low descending scale – swells suddenly to forte in higher register

• “King of Kings”
– intensifying sequence near the end

Hallelujah Chorus
Hallelujah, Hallelujah! For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Hallelujah! For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. The Kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ. And He shall reign for ever and ever, and he shall reign for ever and ever. KING OF KINGS for ever and ever, Hallelujah! AND LORD OF LORDS for ever and ever, Hallelujah!