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Clori, mia bella Clori, HWV92

author of text

Handel left his native Germany for the first time in 1706 and journeyed to Italy, where he remained for about four years. It was one of the most important and fruitful periods of his life. Through his teacher at Halle, Friedrich Wilhelm Zachow, he had acquired the thorough technical grounding expected in a German church musician, and while composing and playing for the opera at Hamburg he had gained some impression of French and Italian styles, but only at second hand. To achieve his ambition of becoming an opera composer of the first rank he needed the experience of Italy itself—acquiring a good knowledge of the language, working with Italian singers and instrumentalists, and absorbing into his own compositions the colour and drama of the newest Italian music.

What Handel wanted above all in Italy was to perfect his skill in writing for the voice. This aim, however, was not best achieved in the hectic and sometimes acrimonious conditions of the opera house, but rather in the calmer and more sympathetic surroundings of the great houses of the noble patrons of music in Rome and elsewhere. At this time the performance of cantatas for solo voice or voices was a common form of domestic entertainment in which poets, composers and singers could display and refine their talents. Most cantatas were written for just one voice and continuo, but larger cantatas with instrumental accompaniment (up to the size of a miniature opera) were produced for special occasions. Handel wrote about a hundred such cantatas in Italy, and they cover the full range of the genre. Through them he gained the experience he needed and in doing so produced a stream of wonderful music to which he was to return many times in later years when in search of ideas for new compositions.

Many of Handel’s cantatas were written for the Marchese Ruspoli, his most important Roman patron. They were performed at meetings of the ‘Arcadian Academy’, a society of noblemen and artists dedicated to high standards of cultural attainment in Rome, especially in poetry and music. Ruspoli was a leading member of the group and presided when the meetings were held at his main residence (the Bonelli Palace) in Rome. Handel spent six months with Ruspoli in 1707 and returned in the spring of 1708 to produce his major work for Rome, the oratorio La Resurrezione. The early part of the summer was taken up with a visit to Naples and Handel then returned for a final stay at the Bonelli Palace in August and September. Ruspoli’s household accounts provide many details of payments to musicians and copyists. From these we learn that the two longest cantatas on this CD were composed during Handel’s last period with Ruspoli in 1708. Clori, mia bella Clori is not specifically mentioned in the accounts, but it is certainly a Roman work (a copy by Angelini, Handel’s chief copyist in Rome, is extant) and may possibly be the unnamed cantata performed at a conversazione on 26 June 1707, for which two violinists were engaged.

Though enhanced by its parts for violins, Clori, mia bella Clori is fairly typical of the simpler kind of solo cantata. The singer represents a young man reflecting on the absence (possibly the permanent loss) of his lover Chloris. His changes of mood are expressed in four arias. The third aria is perhaps the most beautiful: the sighs of the despairing lover are evoked by drooping figures on the violins answered by simple descending phrases in the bass. This aria later became the basis of a solo in the Chandos anthem The Lord is my light, and the opening aria (‘Chiari lumi’) was re-used in Rinaldo as ‘Di Sion nell’ alta sede’.

from notes by Anthony Hicks © 1985

Malgré les deux violons supplémentaires, Clori, mia bella Clori est un exemple caractéristique de cantate pour voix seule du type le plus simple. Le chanteur représente un jeune homme méditant sur l’absence (peut-être sur la perte irrémédiable) de sa bien-aimée, Chloris. Ses états d’esprit changeants sont exprimés à travers quatre arias dont la troisième est peut-être la plus belle: les soupirs de l’amoureux désespéré sont évoqués à travers des motifs tombant auxquels répondent de simples phrases descendantes à la basse. Cette aria servit ensuite de base à un solo dans l’anthem Chandos The Lord is my light et l’aria initiale («Chiari lumi») fut reprise dans Rinaldo comme «Di Sion nell’alta sede».

extrait des notes rédigées par Anthony Hicks © 1985
Français: Isabelle Battioni

Obwohl es durch die beiden Violinstimmen veredelt wird, ist Clori, mia bella Clori ein recht typisches Beispiel für die schlichtere Solokantate. Der Sänger stellt einen jungen Mann dar, der über die Abwesenheit (möglicherweise den ewigen Verlust) seiner Geliebten Chloris nachdenkt. Seine Sinneswandel kommen in vier Arien zum Ausdruck. Die dritte Arie ist vielleicht die schönste: die Seufzer des verzweifelten Liebenden werden durch fallende Figuren der Violinen ausgedrückt, auf die der Bass mit schlichten, absteigenden Phrasen antwortet. Diese Arie wurde später die Grundlage eines Solos im Chandos-Anthem The Lord is my light, und die erste Arie („Chiari lumi“) wurde in der Oper Rinaldo als „Di Sion nell’ alta sede“ wiederverwendet.

aus dem Begleittext von Anthony Hicks © 1985
Deutsch: Viola Scheffel


Handel: Il Duello Amoroso
CDH55136Last few CD copies remaining


No 1. Recitative: Clori, mia bella Clori
Track 19 on CDH55136 [0'42] Last few CD copies remaining
No 2. Aria: Chiari lumi
Track 20 on CDH55136 [3'38] Last few CD copies remaining
No 3. Recitative: Temo, ma pure io spero
Track 21 on CDH55136 [0'38] Last few CD copies remaining
No 4. Aria: Ne gigli e nelle rose
Track 22 on CDH55136 [2'31] Last few CD copies remaining
No 5. Recitative: Non è però che non molesta
Track 23 on CDH55136 [0'24] Last few CD copies remaining
No 6. Aria: Mie pupille
Track 24 on CDH55136 [3'14] Last few CD copies remaining
No 7. Recitative: Tu nobil alma intanto
Track 25 on CDH55136 [0'28] Last few CD copies remaining
No 8. Aria: Di gelosia il timore
Track 26 on CDH55136 [2'47] Last few CD copies remaining

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