Julius Caesar, yesterday

se il Ciel mi fà sperar (2014)

“Or vo’ tutto in dovere si cangi il mio tormento, chè vano ogni lamento, se il Ciel mi fà sperar, se il Ciel mi fà sperar, chè vano ogni lamento, se il Ciel mi fà sperar.”

This short piece for three instruments is based on the Cornelia's aria Non ha più che temere from Handel’s opera Giulio Cesare, in which Cornelia celebrates the death of Tolomeo, who has just been killed by Sesto after attempting to rape Cornelia.

Handel's aria has a disarmingly simple combination of voice and bass, with unison accompaniment. In creating this new piece I have moved sections of these three parts around and embellish them: essentially a musical equivalent to the “collage” technique of visual art.

The basis for the piece is the aria (which follows Handel's typical da Capo format), repeated several times over and given an overall dynamic shape. With this starting point - my entire material for the piece - I have snipped here and cut there and stretched, compressed, and pasted the music to form a new piece.

My piece is still clearly recognisable as Handel - not least because I leave the first iteration of the aria untouched, save for a sparsely realised bass - and yet by the end, almost unrecognisable as anything Handel could or would have written.

Overall I have kept the tone of the original but the embellishments and repetition are intended to add intensity and depth of commentary to this powerful moment in Handel’s drama.

Premiere

Rarescale performing at The Forge, Camden, London: 27th May 2014.

Video

This is a video of the premiere (i.e. given by Rarescale, as above)

Duration

c. 7 minutes

Instrumentation

Alto flute, bassoon, guitar

Downloads

  • score (parts available on request)

Recording

se il Ciel mi fà sperar is available on the following commercial release, performed by Rarescale, together with Strange Loop:

Stream on Spotify

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