Mr. Handel Disgruntled at Wigmore

Wigmore Hall, December 7th,
United KingdomUnited Kingdom Louis de Bernières’ Mr. Handel: Louis de Bernières, Brook Street Band, Wigmore Hall, London, 7.12.2012 (JFL)

Handel: Sinfonia HWV 339, Lascia ch’io pianga, Motet Coelestis dum spirat aura HWV 231 et al.
Bach: Trio Sonata from Musical Offering BWV 1079
Telemann:Affetuoso; Vivace from Tafelmusik TWV 42:Es1
Corelli: Trio Sonata Op.2/12
Porpora: Cantata Tirsi chiamare a Nome

Louis de Bernières reminds me of Dom DeLuise, at least he did when he appeared as the titular composer in a frivolous little ditty of a Wigmore-Hall recital called “Mr. Handel”.

available at Amazon

G.F.Handel, The Six Cello (ex-Recorder) Sonatas,
Brook Street Band

available at Amazon

G.F.Handel, Trio Sonatas Op.5,
Brook Street Band

It was an evening of musical excerpts from the master and contemporaries, with smatterings of Jimmy Hendrix, performed by the five-piece Brooks Street Band (Nicki Kennedy – soprano, Rachel Harris – violin, Farran Scott – Violin, Tatty Theo – cello, Carolyn Gibley – harpsichord)… and amidst it Bernières who gave us Handel “who was larger than life”, now “larger than death”. As such he harangued the Brook Street Ladies who were ready to perform musicke at his command.

The whole thing was an entry-to-Baroque-music-concept for an audience in a venue where the likely audience would probably not have needed such a concept. The result was cute at best and daft to some. Still, much of Handel’s music was never meant to be more than light entertainment (which isn’t—or at least wasn’t then—at odds with high quality) and in that sense this amusement (pronounce it French, please, for the desired effect) fit the bill. Amid the flat jokes, comical asides (including a rare gem: “Plain-speaking has gone out of business: England expects polite hypocrisy”), and bits of assorted Handel were a Corelli Trio Sonata, a cantata by Nicola Antonio Porpora, a Bach Trio Sonata from the Musical Offering, and excerpts from Telemann’s Tafelmusik.

The Brook Street Band did well in the Handel, but by all appearances Handel, the sozzled sod, had slipped each of the ladies a fiver behind stage to make sure that neither Bach nor Telemann sounded anywhere near as good as the Handel. Assuming that to be the case, not lack of rehearsal, the players certainly earned their money. If they had played more music, Handel talked less, and Dom DeLuise (RIP) actually performed Handel, instead of Louis de Bernières, more credits could have been earned still.

Jens F. Laurson