If I focused briefly on the text and the librettist last week, then this week I am paying more attention to the music itself. While there is an overture or preface, the work is then divided mainly into three parts. To listen to the entire work requires two hours time.
In this fourth chapter, the author discuss the technicalities of singing solos, recitatives, choruses, and meditations and where Handel might have used the music in an earlier composition. Apparently, Handel wrote the score over the course of a mere six weeks....not like a letter per se, but as sketches:
Each is in the nature of an outline but germinative subject, a phrase of music,
emerging from words, tested back against those words. From such
sketches, Handel could begin to compose at length, writing the music in outline
first, then adding words, and completing the infilling last of all.
Frankly, reading Mr. Luckett is over my head when he says
Messiah is not an oratoria a chiave, sustained by particular significances for
given keys: it is constructed in blocks of keys, which establish their
local centres, and work through these, rather than according to any overriding
rules of reference.
But the author grabs my attention with the plain statement:
It is important to ask to what extent the work is governed by any general
principle of musical unity.
And he explains:
The unity of Messiah is a consequence of nothing more arcane than the quality of
Handel's attention to his text, and the consistency of his musical imagination.
Now that I can understand and grasp.
With repeated listenings and practice, I can hear what Mr. Luckett is trying to explain, but his book is very detailed and more useful as a reference book.
Nevertheless, I press on.