This young man, only 22 in 1707, has composed here some of the most advanced Vespers of his time if not of all times. He covers an enormous musical range from Gregorian Antiphons to Bach's fugue style and a treatment of instruments and melodies that announces Mozart and all 18th century developments. He is a composer that is able to bring together the heritage of several centuries and the promises of his own time and even his future. He joins heritage and vision in music. What's more he gives to these Vespers a sound and charm that is in the tradition of the Renaissance : the vision of the Virgin is pure, happy, extremely brilliant, beautiful, and absolutely redeeming. No austere element comes into this picture to spoil it. It is Raphael's Virgin, the one we can only see in Dresden in Germany that is projected into our brains, ears, skulls and hearts. Handel is here at his best and yet he is only starting his career and many other bests will come. What's more Andrew Parrott conducts this music with flexibility, brilliance and more than gusto, real enthusiasm. Some wonder how Handel, a German Protestant, could compose such vespers to the Catholic Virgin and for a Catholic religious order. They just don't understand Handel. He is all-inclusive, he is able to absorb, dominate and transcend any style and objective. He knows that music is its own aim and target and not the religious intention. He knows, just like Monteverdi or Bach, that the best way to enhance any religious faith or belief is to provide it with the beauty of the most advanced and varied music one can invent and perform. These Vespers have to be considered as some of the best along with Monteverdi's and Vivaldi's. And they contain no sad lamentation, just the pleasure of knowing that redemption is at the tip of Mary's fingers, provided we can touch her heart. And this music must move her in the deepest layers of her love and care for human sinners, human beings, humanity. In other words this music is a milestone on the road to the Erklärung and the Enlightenment of the 18th century that will produce our modern world. It thus can become an inspiration for the new phase in which we have to navigate towards an ever more humane world. It reverbates with peace and human communion.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU