"He is the greatest composer that ever lived. I would uncover my head and kneel before his tomb" - Ludwig van Beethoven
"Handel is only fourth rate. He is not even interesting" - Pytor Ilych Tchaikovsky
For Montreal Baroque's 16th year, Georg Frederic Handel will inspire a sumptuous menu including a panoply of rare works by the great master of drama!
Beethoven revered him while Tchaikovsky reviled him! Forever controversial, Handel has always been, along with Vivaldi, the most popular composer of the Baroque era and the Hallelujah chorus a household favourite worldwide. No work of Bach has attained such universal status! An overview of Handel's output from his solo sonatas to opera will be a first for Montreal!
The Festival will concentrate on rarely heard music by Handel including the complete keyboard works, the complete sonatas for flute, recorder, violin and gamba, the complete trio sonatas, concerti for violin, organ and harp, rarely heard oratorios and masques and be performed by many of Montreal's baroque ensembles, established and novice, as well as invited guests such as the distinguished British conductor, Trevor Pinnock, to direct a masque. Groups involved will be Arion, Lazy Days, Caprice, Bande Montréal Baroque, SMAM, Les Boréades, Pallade Musica, Autour de la flute, Ensemble 1729, Per Sonare, Infusion Baroque, la Compagnie Baroque Mont-Royal, Le Petit rien, Le Nouvel Opéra, Red Owl etc.
A Handel festival is brilliant as far as amateur musicians are concerned. Their annual marathon will play an integral role at the festival to help complete the performance of the complete chamber works of the master!
Handel, a corpulent fellow, was a well known epicurean and was famed for downing two bottles of red each evening encouraging the development of a serious case of gout as age encroached! The Bacchanalia Baroque will include wine tasting of such biodynamic wine as Handel would have enjoyed as well as some of the delicious foods he would have consumed without the inhibition of modern references to fat content!
As Berlioz described Handel, he was "a tub of pork and beer": an inspiration for Montreal Baroque!