Händels Laudate pueri-Vertonungen: Beispiel zweier
Between 1704 and 1707, Handel composed two settings of Laudate pueri (ps. 112). One was presumably performed in Hamburg, the other in Rome. The presence of two settings may seem strange, though the two works are partially based on the same thematic material and offer many similarities. Why could the Hamburg setting not have been adjusted to Roman circumstances and possibilities? Close analysis of the two pieces reveals substantially different approaches to text and formal design. The Hamburg Laudate pueri is similar to other north- and central-German settings in disposition and scoring. Its free internal structures and ‘excessive’ thematic development are reminiscent of the composer’s early Hamburg works. Obviously, the Roman Laudate pueri is characterised by the use of regular and symmetrical forms. Its musical design, which reflects the expanded possibilities available to the composer, offers a new understanding and rendering of the text. Scoring, compositional devices and virtuoso writing are now effectively harnessed to a reinterpretation of the psalm through decoding and dramatization of the text. This approach is surely rooted in Handel’s education as a composer, but it is also a result of his vivid experience in Italy and perhaps even Venice. The Laudate pueri settings thus reflect two entirely different situations and contexts.