G F Handel · Ode Alexander’s Feast HWV 75
The Thames Consort brings the season to a close with Handel’s dramatic and colourful work for soprano, tenor and bass soloists, choir and orchestra.
Alexander’s Feast, or The Power of Music, was written for London in 1736, setting a libretto based on a poem by John Dryden. It tells how Alexander the Great held a banquet to celebrate the defeat of the Persian king, Darius, at which his bard Timotheus was able by his singing to move Alexander to various emotions until he is finally incited to burn Persepolis down in revenge for his dead Greek soldiers. Handel incorporated two concerti as interludes in the work – one for harp, and one for organ – which were subsequently published as part of his Op.4 set of organ concerti.
The work was a great success, and encouraged Handel to move from writing Italian opera to English oratorios.
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