Newly discovered Handel cantata to receive its modern premiere

Gramophone Tue 23rd February 2016

The cantata was discovered in Ton Koopman's collection and will be premiered by him in April

A newly discovered Handel cantata – an earliy version of Tu fedel? Tu costante?, HWV 171 – will be given its modern premiere in Amsterdam on April 9. The cantata was discovered in the private collection of harpsichordist and conductor Ton Koopman by the musicologist John Roberts of the University of California, Berkeley.

Koopman's website explains: 'It is an earlier but very different version of the cantata. Only the first aria is substantially the same, while the three remaining arias are entirely new. HWV 171a, as the cantata will be known, also differs from the later version in calling for an oboe in addition to two violins and basso continuo. There can be no doubt about Handel’s authorship, because of numerous motivic connections with his other works, including the opera Almira, performed in Hamburg in 1705, before the composer left for Italy.

'Handel probably composed HWV 171a in Venice or Florence prior to his arrival in Rome in late 1706, making it one of his earliest Italian works. The copyist was also responsible for the copies of two other Handel cantatas, now in the British Library, that once belonged to Handel.' 

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