Amanda Forsythe

Portland Baroque Orchestra review: Handel in good hands

Dramatic sensibility and musical virtuosity make Handel’s music soar.

By KATIE TAYLOR

Seeing Handel arias on a program fills me with dread.

Unlike Bach or Purcell, whose music has enough intrinsic novelty to carry even a really bad actor, Handel offers no hiding places. His music was deliberately composed with plenty of elbow room for dramatic interpretation and embellishment. It’s like one of those flat gray rocks you pick up on the beach because its beauty just staggers you at the time, but then you find it in your pocket when you get home and wonder why you kept it. The challenge for any artist attacking a program of Handel is to make the audience want to pick up that rock and keep it forever.

Artslandia-ORAWreviewI’d be surprised if anyone at First Baptist Church Saturday night didn’t leave with their pockets full.

With a flair for drama and a penchant for light, crisp readings and dizzyingly fast tempi, guest director Alexander Weimann led Portland Baroque Orchestra in an inspired program of arias and duets from Handel’s operas and oratorios, threaded together with movements from the same composer’s Op. 6 concerti grossi to create a single transporting dramatic piece.

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