I mottetti su testo metrico neolatino di Händel: tracce di
un repertorio romano scomparso?
The aim of this study is to place the four solo motets composed by Handel during his Roman sojourn of 1707 (O qualis de caelo sonus HWV 239, Caelestis dum spirat aura HWV 231, Saeviat tellus inter rigores HWV 240, and Silete venti, frondes HWV 242) in their original functional and compositional context. These works, none of whose dates of composition can be ascertained precisely, have a common characteristic: their texts are a compilation of freely invented Latin poetry, recitatives and arias with only vague hints of the liturgy or scripture. This particular kind of motet, which is most common in Venice and some other Italian cities, is little known in Rome since, in the late 17th century, newly “invented” texts were officially banned in the Papal States. It seems logical to suppose that exceptions may have been granted for privately sponsored musiche straordinarie (music for extraordinary feast-days) and private chapels (including the “extraterritorial” chiese nazionali). However, the “private” nature of these compositions effectively determined their exclusion from the music archives of normal Roman churches. A few comparable motets survive in the archive of a chiesa nazionale (S. Giacomo degli Spagnoli) or were produced by composers only temporarily active in Rome (for example, Caldara and Vivaldi).