Hyperion Records

Look down, harmonious saint
? 1736; composed for Alexander's Feast but omitted; music first used in Cecilia, volgi un sguardo
author of text
The Power of Musick

'Handel: Acis and Galatea' (CDA66361/2)
Handel: Acis and Galatea
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Track 18 on CDA66361/2 CD2 [11'56] 2CDs

Look down, harmonious saint
The origins of the cantata Look down, harmonious saint are slightly uncertain, for it is thought that the work was originally intended to be part of Handel’s oratorio Alexander’s Feast, whose St Cecilia’s Day Ode in praise of music by Dryden was augmented by Newburgh Hamilton’s The Power of Music. Alexander’s Feast was first performed at Covent Garden in February 1736, but Look down, harmonious saint was not included. Instead it appeared in the cantata Cecilia, volgi un sguardo which was performed at the King’s Theatre, Haymarket, in the same month. Whatever Handel’s original intentions and reasons, on its own Look down, harmonious saint happily forms a small cantata, with a da capo aria preceded by an accompanied recitative. In particular, the central section, ‘It charms the soul’, is given a ravishing setting, full of suspensions and rich harmonies, before the virtuoso opening Allegro returns.

from notes by Robert King 1989

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