Re: Which edition of the Handel Concerto do you teach?

unknown-user on #88401

Lucile Lawrence made her edition with the intention of serving the needs of the full-size harp with a modern orchestra, or solo, and yet being stylistically appropriate to the period. She therefore retained chords and voicings when possible from the Salzedo edition, but overall thinned the texture, removed the added voices and revisions of melody and harmony from Salzedo and Grandjany, and used historically appropriate ornaments, with an appropriately brief cadenza by Dewey Owens. If you want a stylish edition to play on a big harp, then this is a good one to use. If you want to go urtext, it will be too thinly textured to sound well on a big harp, and you must consider the improvisatory approach of the time. It is a big project, but perhaps someone can embark on a comparison/contrast study of all the available editions. I’m sure that it would be published. I would do it if someone sent me the music. One has to consider the orchestra/conductor/audience and their expectations. It’s as though we need to know three versions: one rigidly “authentic”, one adapted, and one romantic or modern like Grandjany or Salzedo. Those are the only ones that would also serve as a showcase for the harp. In going through the Grandjany edition recently, I noticed that the opening of his cadenza recalls the opening of the harp’s cadenza in Monteverdi’s Orfeo. I wonder if that was deliberate. The Harvard Dictionary of Music has good articles on performing style in different periods, which is a different issue in part from ornamentation. As I mentioned before, I have begun the slow process of my own edition, which will probably not yield terribly major differences, only I find places in which I think richer harmony is possible based on the bass line and melody given. And then there’s the issue of variation on repeats. I’ve heard it done, a professor from B.U. helped create a version with added elements and variations on the repeats. I must say, I found it disturbing. We are used to a structural approach to Baroque music, and even though improvisation may have been done, particularly by singers, it doesn’t mean the composers liked it, and didn’t want to do away with it. It adds a layer that is trivial and self-serving of the performer, much like “pop” singers of today. I think we are right to want to look deeper into the music, and to not be distracted by superficial detailing.