Psalmvertonungen als dramatische Konzeption. Händels
Dixit Dominus im venezianischen Umfeld
Handel’s setting of the psalm Dixit Dominus stands out by virtue of two characteristics: its impressive length (30-40 minutes) and its varied dramatic content. These features give the piece a unique compositional structure. Nothing is known regarding the occasion for which this work was composed, its performance or its patron. It is certain only that it was finished in Rome during April 1707. The Venetian influences in the music – for example, the solo concertare of the violins – cannot be denied. This essay sets out to define Handel’s conception on the basis of a detailed analysis and comparison with two other settings of the Dixit Dominus by two of the principal figures in Venice: Johann Rosenmuller and Antonio Vivaldi. The analysis focuses on four topics: 1. the formal arrangement of the psalm-verses; 2. the various compositional techniques used to create the dramatic scenario, above all in vv. 4, 5 and 6; 3. the use of what, for the Dixit Dominus, was the very uncommon key of G Minor; 4. the use of double choir. Not only did Handel bear in mind the Venetian tradition of psalm-settings, but he also regarded the Old Testament text as a dramatic libretto offering astonishingly elaborate richness for formal and stylistic devices. The composition points directly to his later oratorios.