George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)
Dixit Dominus, HWV 232

Chorus. Dixit Dominus
Rachel Ridout soprano
Milette Gillow alto
Henry Ross tenor

Aria. Virgam virtutis tuae
Anita Monserrat alto

Aria. Tecum principium in die virtuosi
Danielle O'Neill

Chorus. Juravit Dominus

Chorus. Tu es sacerdos in aeternum

Chorus. Dominus a dextris tuis
Rusne Tuslaite and Anne Sutton soprano
Cassandra Dalby alto
Toshimichi Ogita tenor
Isaac Tolley bass

Chorus. Judicabit in nationibus

Chorus. De torrente in via bibet
Rusne Tuslaite and Anne Sutton soprano

Chorus. Gloria Patri et Filio

Academy Bach Consort
Academy Chamber Orchestra
Iain Ledingham director

All performers at this event are conforming to our safety requirements of being at least two metres apart.

By 1706, at the tender age of 21, Handel had already begun to establish himself as an opera composer in Hamburg. During his years of study in Halle, he had mastered the necessary forms of counterpoint. A change of scenery was clearly due: Handel journeyed to Italy, reaching Rome in 1707, where for the next few years he would become enmeshed in important cultural circles. Handel, or ‘Endel’ as some Italian sources identified him, gained particular favour with three cardinals, securing patronage from Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni (whose maestro di concerto was Arcangelo Corelli), Cardinal Benedetto Pamphilj and Cardinal Carlo Colonna. In Italy, Handel was exposed to the richest of musical traditions and a mode of innovation that arguably he could not access in Germany. Handel witnessed the latest trends in church composition as well as developments in the new concerto grosso form made by Corelli, Torelli and Vivaldi.

Most of Handel’s Latin church music, including the psalm setting Dixit Dominus, dates from those years in Rome. The brilliantly vibrant Italian concerto style is not so much employed, but rather a force unleashed. Such is the torrent of energy of the opening movement: cascades of arpeggios and vigorous – if not quasi-violent – string crossings, punctuated by declamations from the choir, surge forth in unbridled force. The work as whole couldn’t be richer in colours or affective contrasts. From the hypnotising ‘Tecum principium’, in which a soprano bounces between violins swirling in drowsy triplets, to the abundant overflow of counterpoint as if it were liquid honey in ‘Tu es sacerdos’, Handel clearly relished in creating each movement as if it were a tiny emotional world unto itself. Whether coloured in chiaroscuro or pungent dissonance, Handel’s writing achieves something special, touching both the magical and the human. ‘De torrente in via bibet’ perhaps captures this best: the high voices intermingle like sonic mist, foam even, spiralling in slow motion above the choral chanting in the lower voices. It’s harrowingly beautiful stuff – music that seems to stretch time itself and bend the hardness of surfaces.

Mark Seow


Isabel Irvine
Sophia Yan Jin
Margaret Mitchell
Danielle O'Neill
Rachel Ridout
Anne Sutton
Rusne Tuslaite

Cassandra Dalby
Milette Gillow
Anita Monserrat

Toshimichi Ogita
Henry Ross
Magnus Walker

Alexander Bower-Brown
Isaac Tolley
Daniel Vening


Chamber organ
Joshua Ryan

Iain Ledingham

First violin
Hiroki Kasai
Dalla Costa, 1762
Mitzi Gardner
G Chanot, 1858
Yuliya Ostapchuk
Postacchini, c 1860

Second violin
Preston Yeo
N Gagliano, c 1746
Berfin Aksu
Harry Kneeshaw
JK Empsall, 1909

Rachel Spence
Panormo school, c 1790
India Blackshaw-Britton

Samuel Vincent
– R. Tobin, c 1820

Double bass
Alexander Jones
– B. Tunnicliffe, 2006 [Becket Collection]