MUSICTEACHERS.CO.UK VOLUME 2 ISSUE 11, MAY 2001  
Online Journal

Analysis

No. of Bars: 361

Key: D major

Structure: 5 sections: Allegro Moderato (D major), Allegro (A major), A tempo giusto (D major), Allegro, non presto (b minor), Allegro, non presto (D major)

Bar What happens Comment
1-13 The work opens with strings and oboes in a bold opening statement. The harmony in the first three bars is very strong, consisting almost entirely of tonic and dominant chords. The bass line, bouncing across triads and octaves to begin with, gives the music lift and momentum. As in much of the piece, the oboes here are doubling much of the material in the violins. Bars 5-6 contain a series of 7-6 suspensions, which are a common Handelian feature.

Bar 7 sees a modulation to A major (the dominant) through the introduction of a G-sharp. This is accompanied by a repeat of the oboe and first violins' trill motif from bars 2-3.

Bars 12 & 13 contain a strong perfect cadence in this new key.
The bright D major key, strong emphasis on tonic and dominant harmonies, and rhythmic vitality of the texture (stemming from the bass line) contribute to creating a joyful, energetic opening to set the atmosphere for the opening text 'The King shall rejoice in thy strength, O Lord'
13-29 The music returns immediately to D major (note the G-natural in bar 13). In this section the bass line drops out in bars 13-14, 17-18 and 23-24, creating a textural contrast. This effect is heightened in the second and third occurrences as the strings drop out altogether, leaving just the oboes and trumpets.

The trumpets and timpani join the texture at bar 15, where reference is made to bars 2-3 in the rest of the orchestra.

Bars 23-29 are almost an exact repeat of 17-23, with minor cosmetic changes to the last two bars of each section.
The textural contrast here is a feature of Baroque music, relating to the ripieno – tutti idea of the Baroque concerto form.
29-45 The choir enters, singing the first phrase over a bass line based on a descending D major scale, closing with a perfect cadence. The orchestra play very little in bar 29 to give the choir a bigger impact. The word setting of this opening vocal section is homophonic, although block-chord passages contrast with melismatic writing, such as in bars 36-38 (notice again the use of 7-6 suspensions here in the first alto part). Bar 39 sees another modulation to the dominant, again leading to a firm cadence in this key at bar 45. The orchestra makes reference to the opening of the movement through the use of the trill motif from bars 2-3 (occurring at bars 33-35 and 39-40) and the falling triadic figure of bars 32-33, harking back to bars 13-14. The declamatory and homophonic manner in which the choir enters portrays the jubilance of the text.
45-74 Harmonically there is a move back to D major in bar 47, followed closely by a transient use of G major in bars 48-50 (through the introduction of a C-natural). Imitation between choir and orchestra is audible in bars 49-52, where the soprano line in the first two bars is then outlined in the first trumpet, first oboe and first violins in the following two bars. This motivic shape is subsequently found in bar 59 (back in D major), with the same bass line as bars 49-50. The trill motif from bars 2-3 returns in bars 64-65, and bars 68-74 are basically a repeat of bars 17-23.

Note that in the restatement of 'The king shall rejoice' in bars 60-61 and 66-67, the soprano falls down a scale from a D down to an A, thus making reference to the bass line in the initial choir entry in bar 29.
 
75-95 The second section begins with a new key (A major) and a new time signature (3/4). It is clear from the outset that this section is dominated by a dotted rhythm which permeates both bass line and upper parts. The musical material is fairly simple, consisting of much triadic and scalic movement. Imitation between bass line and upper parts is featured in bars 79-82. Bars 89-95 are a repeat of bars 83-88 with extremely minor changes. Bars 87-88 (and the repeat at 92-93) contain a hemiola. The hemiola in bars 87-88 is a cadential feature typical of Renaissance and Baroque music.
95-124 The choir's entry is again homophonic in style, and mostly avoids the dotted rhythm that characterises the orchestra's music. The orchestra reply to the choir's first statement in bars 97-98 with reference to the opening material of the section.This first choral passage is harmonically very strong and static, as bars 95-102 are almost entirely based on the tonic chord. Subsequently the move to the dominant chord for four bars in bar 104 is also very strong. After that the harmonic pace suddenly picks up and sets in motion a modulation to the dominant (E major) in bar 109.

The choir is given a more polyphonic style in bars 105-121, with imitative entries based on a falling triadic figure (this figure then becomes inverted after bar 115). The initial imitation between alto and bass in bars 105-110 produces a chain of 7-6 suspensions between the parts.Bars 121-124 provide a breathing space for the choir; here the orchestra take the triplet motif originally heard in bar 88 and transpose it into the new key of E major.
 
125-149 This passage begins with a textural contrast; the orchestra drop out for two bars, leaving just the alto and tenor lines to sing the opening phrase again (transposed into E major). Imitation is again the main constituent of this section, and to begin with Handel pairs the soprano line with the bass to imitate the combined alto and tenor lines. The descending 7-6 suspensions can again be heard in the upper vocal parts in bars 134-138, and from here onward the previous triadic motif dominates the choral texture.The music moves back to A major in bar 131, and stays in this key for the rest of this section of the work.  
150-189 A further descending chain of 7-6 suspensions opens this passage. The underlying bass line falls through a complete octave.

Texturally the choral writing becomes more fluid, with longer note values employed. The violins keep up the momentum with scale-based triplet writing that contrasts with the previous pervasive dotted material.The fluidity is broken in bar 158 with a restatement of the words 'Exceeding glad shall he be' in a cadential, homophonic setting. The violins punctuate this phrase with reference first to the original dotted figure in bar 159, then the triplet figure in bar 161.A final imitative passage between bars 162 and 177 is again based on the triadic motif, with the orchestral accompaniment based on both dotted rhythms and triplet figures. The final vocal cadence includes the use of a hemiola.

The orchestra play a postlude to close the section, which is merely a condensed repeat of the opening material.
 
190-196 The time signature changes to 4/4. A sudden change of key back to D major is reinforced by four bars based entirely on the tonic chord. The full orchestra is employed (the trumpets are reinstated after silence in the previous section) to depict the word 'glory' as a blazing D major chord, against which the violins scurry up and down in semiquavers to give a great energetic feeling to the texture.The security of the new key is broken in bar 194 by a sudden leap onto a chord of F-sharp major (the dominant of b minor, the relative minor). The Adagio bars (195-196) confirm a move to b minor with a Phrygian cadence in bar 196. Phrygian cadences are a feature typical of many Baroque composers. There are several definitions of this type of cadence, but the most common one is a cadence that ends on the dominant chord of the relative minor key (in this case the cadence ends on a chord of F-sharp major, which is the dominant of b minor, the relative minor of D major).
197-239 The previous cadence resolves onto the tonic b minor to begin the new section; this is accompanied by a change of time signature to an Allegro 3/4.

The altos and tenors begin with a unison phrase from which the altos break into a long melisma (this section contains the most florid melismatic writing in the piece). Against this the tenors and first basses enter in bar 205 with the same unison figure which modulates to the dominant (f-sharp minor), although the shape of the melodic line has been changed in the first bar to fit the harmony. From here the tenors join the altos in a harmonic move away from f-sharp minor towards D major (slipping back into b minor at bar 215), featuring imitation in bars 212-215.

At bar 215 the basses have the unison figure, which is answered by the entrance of the soprano line (and oboes) in bar 223 with the corresponding figure from bars 205-209. This time the modulation to f-sharp minor is longer-lasting (until bar 238). The main feature of the choral parts here is the rhythmic imitation for the words 'with the blessings'.Following a firm cadence in f-sharp minor in bars 236-237, the music veers back into D major in the following bar.
 
240-290 From bar 240 to the end of this section there are basically three tutti sections interspersed with thinner textures. The first of these tuttis is bars 240-247, which is formed over a pedal note (A) and includes a modulation to A major. A crescendo is built into the texture here through the use of rising violin lines.

The change of key turns out to be temporary, as a cadence in A major in bars 246-247 is followed immediately by a G-natural in the bass line, taking the music back once more into D major. A sudden thinning of texture in bar 247 contrasts with the previous bar, and in this four-bar passage there is a falling unison line, first in the altos, then the tenors, which relates back to the soprano line in bar 219 (and indirectly to bars 199-200).

The second tutti is from bars 252-259 and is again formed over a pedal note, this time D. The rising string lines again create a textural crescendo, which is heightened through rising trumpet parts.

From the cadence in D major in bars 258-259 the sopranos launch straight into b minor with a restatement of the opening figure from bar 197. The second half of this figure is imitated by the altos, who then introduce a passing modulation to e minor in bars 267-268, before returning to b minor. The alto melisma in bar 268 (imitated in the sopranos at bar 271) raises the expectation of a larger polyphonic choral section, but this turns out not to be the case with the arrival of the final tutti section at bar 274. Like the previous two this starts over a pedal note (F-sharp), but this lasts for only 3 bars. As before, the homophonic choral writing is contrasted with rising quaver motion in the strings (and here also in the oboes).A II-V-I cadence in D major in bars 278-280 suggests a major ending to the section, but a bass line falling through a tenth then takes the music back to b minor. The chorus ends with a hemiola in bars 284-285.

The falling scale idea from the bass part in bars 280-284 is then taken up by the first violins for the short postlude, played only by the strings, which closes the section.
 
291-361 The final section, based entirely on the word 'Alleluia', sees a return to D major (the key in which the work began) and the reinstatement of common time as the time signature. Following a fugal opening, the section consists mostly of polyphonic writing, interspersed with declamatory homophonic outbursts, such as in bar 307. Virtually all the musical material can be related back to the opening statement in the tenors and second altos (bars 291-295) or the countersubject-type figure in the first alto line (bars 292-295), especially the exploitation of the falling quaver line in bar 292, which is the subject of much imitation throughout the section (e.g. between the tenors and basses in bars 321-324).

The orchestra has little material that is independent of the choral parts; for the majority of the time it is doubling the chorus, either in unison or an octave apart. The trumpets are employed mostly to add emphasis where the choir writing is more homophonic.

Despite several transient modulations such as A major (bars 306-313), b minor (bars 323-328) and G major (bars 303-304) the music repeatedly returns to the tonic key of D major.

The use of textural contrast also breaks up the larger chunks of full polyphony, such as in bars 347-349, where the bass and tenor parts drop out to leave a much thinner texture. This consequently heightens the impact of the interruption in bar 349 by the whole orchestra and choir for a homophonic setting of the word 'Alleluia'.

The work ends with a huge Adagio cadence, preceded by a dramatic use of silence after the pause in bar 358.
The great outpouring of polyphony in this section is testament to Handel's compositional mastery, bringing the work to a joyous conclusion.

The Adagio cadence at the work's end is a typical Handelian feature, and is employed at the end of each of the Coronation Anthems


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