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Handel’s Harp concerto originally for harp AND lute?

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  • #106143
    rolf den Otter
    Participant

    Hello All,

    Recently, I heard that Handel’s Harp concerto originally was conceived for harp AND Lute, but that the lute part has been lost. Is this true? On youtube a 1984 reconstruction surfaced from 1984 where Edward Witsenburg (on an Erard harp) and Toyohiko Satoh (on baroque lute) play a reconstruction of this work, conducted by Richard Hickox:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3UvfDdSpL0&hd=1

    Can anyone confirm this?

    Rolf

    #106144
    Tacye
    Participant

    My favourite recording of this is from I think 1966 with harp and lute in Thurston Dart’s reconstruction with Ossian Ellis on harp.

    #106145
    barbara-brundage
    Participant

    Yes, I like that one, too, Stacy.

    #106146
    barbara-brundage
    Participant

    Stacy??? How did I type that. Sorry, Tacye. Can’t even claim it’s pre-coffee early.

    #106147

    I don’t like sharing the spotlight with a lutenist, plus it makes the balance difficult, I should think. I have heard Ellis’s recording, and it’s cute, but I think the lute detracts from what the harp can say on its own. Who spends more time tuning, I wonder, a lutenist or a harpist?

    #106148
    barbara-brundage
    Participant

    I wouldn’t say I like it better with the lute, just that I think that’s the best recording of the lute version that I’ve heard.

    #106149
    jessica-wolff
    Participant

    Yep, that’s my understanding. Oddly enough, it was the (Desmond Dupre, lute; Osian Ellis, harp) recording that I FIRST heard, and I’ve since heard the Satoh/Witsenburg version on YouTube. The concerto works fine for harp alone, but it’s richer with the lute.

    Saul, the lute is a Baroque lute in this case, so it would require quite a bit of time tuning. You don’t want to share the solo honors with a lutenist? Take it up with Handel!

    #106150

    I can’t imagine negotiating who will tune first, second and last. It would probably take longer than the piece itself!

    #106151
    jessica-wolff
    Participant

    LOL. Somebody (Dowland?) once said that if a lutenist lived to a certain age, he would have spent 1/3 of that time tuning his lute. If it was Dowland, he wrote for a 7-course lute, which is not such a big deal as the later Baroque lutes.

    I’m curious what kind of harp Handel was writing for. Certainly not a pedal harp, which would not have been available to him. Double or triple harp? I’ve always thought Bach would have written for the harp if a more sophisticated harp had been available. Though he was born the same year as Handel, 1685.

    #106152
    paul-knoke
    Participant

    The concerto was written for the Welsh triple harp, a tall instrument, very lightly strung, with three rows of strings and fully chromatic. One difference between Haendel and Bach, is that Haendel was working in England, where the triple harp was well known, while Bach was working in Germany, where the most common form of the harp at the time would have been the hook harp (like a lever harp, but with wire hooks to turn instead of plastic lever to flip).

    Before people start speculating on the tuning problems of the triple harp, I’d like to say that I have two 18th century pedal harps which are very lightly strung, and their tuning is much more stable than my more modern instruments, I think due in large part to the lower tension on the strings.

    #106153
    jessica-wolff
    Participant

    Thanks, Paul. Is the concerto harder to play on a pedal harp?

    #106154
    paul-knoke
    Participant

    Good question! I don’t play triple harp, so I can’t really answer it. However, I have heard triple harpists comment that the pedal harp is, in general, easier to play. The triple is a different instrument with different resources: a different tone and sonority, and the capability of a different kind chromaticism, rapidly repeated notes, and a variety of tuning temperaments.

    I did try a triple last summer. It was certainly different, but not as difficult as I had expected. It helped if I didn’t try to look at the strings!

    #106155
    jessica-wolff
    Participant

    Saul brought up the question of balance. I’m guessing he meant something like this: Vivaldi’s D-major lute concerto is most often played with a guitar doing the lute part. I have heard it played on a lute, though, and the violins kept drowning out the lute. Is that what you meant by balance, Saul? If so, and if the harp part is being played on a modern harp, would the lute have a problem being heard?

    #106156

    I think it would, as lutes tend to have a very soft, intimate sound, and don’t project the way a guitar can. I have heard a guitar drown out a harp, but not a lute.

    #106157
    barbara-low
    Participant

    I thought it was originally written for organ.

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