Handel & Bach: Virtuosic Choral Works

Concert dates:

BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall
London, UK
7.30pm, Wednesday 1 September

Berliner Festspiele
Berlin, Germany
8pm, Friday 3 September

Monteverdi Choir
English Baroque Soloists
John Eliot Gardiner

Ann Hallenberg mezzo-soprano

Consort soloists
Julia Doyle soprano
Emily Owen soprano
Bethany Horak-Hallett alto
Graham Neal tenor
Peter Davoren tenor
Dingle Yandell bass

​In September 2021, the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists, led by John Eliot Gardiner, performed a programme of youthful choral works by Handel and Bach at two of Europe’s most prestigious classical music festivals.

Our BBC Proms performance is now available to watch on BBC iPlayer


Handel Donna che in ciel, HWV 233
Bach Christ lag in Todesbanden, BWV 4
Handel Dixit Dominus (Psalm 109), HWV 232

Click here to read the reviews of our Proms performance

For Handel, an adventurous traveller and a true European, the three and a half years that he spent in Italy in his early twenties had a decisive influence on his creative development. Italian vigour and vivid colour are immediately striking in his psalm setting Dixit Dominus, which was completed in Rome in 1707, essentially a grand concerto for voices and orchestra.

Bach’s cantata Christ lag in Todesbanden was composed in the same year. Unlike Handel, the young Bach stayed in Protestant Germany, but his virtuosic elaboration of Martin Luther’s Easter hymn turns the text into an astonishingly fiery piece of musical drama.

The Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists were joined by the renowned Handelian singer Ann Hallenberg for Donna che in ciel, also composed during Handel’s Italian sojourn. The cantata commemorates the fifth anniversary of an earthquake which shook the area around Rome, and gives thanks to the Virgin Mary for averting disaster. This will be a rare opportunity to hear a work which glows with Italian passion: the arias by turns evoke the tremors of the earthquake, and plangently address the Virgin, before the chorus reinforce an ecstatic final hymn of praise.