NPR’s Scott Simon talks with conductor Marin Alsop concerning the thirtieth anniversary of “Too Sizzling To Handel” — a contemporary tackle Handel’s baroque basic, “Messiah.”



SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Handel’s “Messiah” and “Hallelujah,” a staple of the vacations composed by George Frideric Handel over 280 years in the past and nonetheless strikes audiences around the globe – about 30 years in the past, the maestra Marin Alsop put her personal spin on this baroque commonplace with “Too Sizzling To Handel.”

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “THE GOSPEL MESSIAH: HALLELUJAH!”)

UNIDENTIFIED CHOIR #1: (Singing) Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah…

SIMON: And we’re so happy to be joined as soon as once more by Maestra Marin Alsop, chief conductor of the Vienna Radio Symphony and director of the graduate conducting program on the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins College, and a severe jazz musician, too. She’s at WYPR in Baltimore. Maestra Marin, thanks a lot for being again with us.

MARIN ALSOP: Oh, it is nice to speak to you once more, Scott. Thanks for having me.

SIMON: What moved you to reimagine a masterpiece like Handel’s “Messiah” 30 years in the past?

ALSOP: There was actually one occasion that form of triggered it, which was {that a} buddy of mine was saying, effectively, what performances do you’ve this week? And I mentioned, oh, I am doing the “Messiah.” And he mentioned, oh, , I actually like that half the place all people stands up, however it’s slightly bit boring till then. I assumed, OK…

SIMON: Oh, mercy.

ALSOP: …That is not the best angle…

SIMON: What would you like? Yeah.

ALSOP: …In any respect, ? And…

SIMON: Yeah.

ALSOP: …The thought of updating it – and it isn’t a overseas concept. Mozart really up to date Handel’s “Messiah” slightly bit, and he did not take it fairly to this diploma. However I had this concept, particularly for the “Hallelujah Refrain,” that it may very well be a very, , barn-burning gospel quantity for positive.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “THE GOSPEL MESSIAH: HALLELUJAH”)

UNIDENTIFIED CHOIR #1: (Singing) Hallelujah, hallelujah…

SIMON: Some individuals would possibly assume these are two types of music which might be diametrically opposed. However you do not really feel that means, do you?

ALSOP: No, by no means. I imply, the factor that we’re probably not in contact with is that in Handel’s lifetime, performers used to decorate, decoration, improvise on a regular basis, so there would by no means be two performances that had been simply actually the notes you see on the web page. There was a whole lot of jazz-like improvisation.

SIMON: We wish to hear possibly a few of the distinction between the 2 approaches. We’ll play the well-known part “Certainly He Hath Borne Our Griefs,” and let’s ask our listeners to try to decide which one belongs the place.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “MESSIAH: PART II, NO. 24 SURELY HE HATH BORNE OUR GRIEFS”)

UNIDENTIFIED CHOIR #2: (Singing) Certainly, absolutely, he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. Certainly, absolutely, he hath borne…

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “THE GOSPEL MESSIAH: SURELY HE HATH BORNE OUR GRIEFS”)

UNIDENTIFIED CHOIR #3: (Singing) Certainly, absolutely, absolutely, oh, absolutely, he hath borne our griefs…

SIMON: I do not know.

ALSOP: (Laughter).

SIMON: Are you able to give me a clue?

ALSOP: You recognize, I’d say that I like them each, and that is what’s so superior. After I had this concept, I bought along with two incredible arranger – composer/arranger pals of mine that I would work with within the business world, Bob Christianson and Gary Anderson. And naturally, they already knew I used to be loopy, so it wasn’t, , that a lot of a stretch. However I introduced the rating, and we went by way of every of the numbers. And we mentioned, OK, this feels like a jazz waltz. Possibly this may very well be a shuffle. And I attempted to have the recit (ph) sections – , the recitativo sections…

SIMON: Yeah.

ALSOP: …Be extra name and response, that type of factor, and extra improvised. And each Gary and Bob did a incredible job.

SIMON: Jazz, in fact, is understood for improvisation, individuality, expression by way of solos. That may additionally occur with the classics, cannot it?

ALSOP: Oh, completely. Completely. You recognize, it is so attention-grabbing as a result of I believe our conservatory coaching has gotten away from that. And one thing that I actually attempt to stress with younger musicians is having that means to take a solo, to jot down one thing out or to improvise on – within the second. That is an extremely artistic outlet for younger musicians, so it is good that we are able to get again to it slightly bit with this efficiency.

SIMON: Effectively, and let’s hear some – can I name it scatting? – within the “Each Valley” part. Sure, scatting.

ALSOP: Chances are you’ll, for positive.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “THE GOSPEL MESSIAH: EVERY VALLEY”)

THOMAS YOUNG: (Scatting).

ALSOP: That is incredible. That is Thomas Younger, the tenor, there. And you’ll hear from the orchestration that it isn’t your conventional Handel orchestra.

SIMON: Yeah.

ALSOP: So we added 5 saxophones, a rhythm part, a Hammond B-3 organ.

SIMON: Oh, my God.

ALSOP: So it is actually a blast. And , Scott, I believe having the viewers up within the aisles dancing, clapping, screaming – that is my concept of an awesome classical live performance.

SIMON: And also you encourage your gamers so as to add their very own aptitude, do not you?

ALSOP: Oh yeah, undoubtedly. I believe that for me, the thought of breaking down these obstacles so that when once more classical music could be because it was when it was initially performed – it may be an lively participatory sport, ? – that individuals actually – once they heard the “Messiah,” , they actually reacted. The king…

SIMON: Yeah.

ALSOP: …King George II, on the time, he is the one which was so moved that he stood up throughout the “Hallelujah” refrain. That is why individuals rise up in it immediately. I believe I am carrying on that custom slightly bit. Not solely are they standing up, however they’re actually dancing within the aisles now.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “THE GOSPEL MESSIAH: HE SHALL FEED HIS FLOCK”)

UNIDENTIFIED SOLOIST: (Singing) Come unto him, all ye that labor. Come unto him…

SIMON: That is clearly an vital time for households and for humanity after we get into the vacations. I’m wondering if there’s a message you are taking each from Handel’s “Messiah” and “Too Sizzling To Handel” that you just hope can enliven the lives of individuals.

ALSOP: You recognize, I believe that music is such an unbelievable equalizer in a means and connector. It brings individuals collectively. And everybody’s allowed to really feel no matter emotion they’ve, and it is legitimate. You recognize, there is not any judgment in music. That is what I like about it. And I believe Handel’s “Messiah,” this message of hope for a future that may be crammed with miracle and pleasure and light-weight, , that is a message that all of us want immediately, and we’ve got to hold on to that. And I hope you get to listen to it quickly, Scott.

SIMON: Oh, I hope so, too. Maestra Marin Alsop celebrating 30 years of “Too Sizzling To Handel.” She will likely be conducting this on the Royal Albert Corridor in London on December 7. Marin, so fantastic to be with you once more. Thanks a lot.

ALSOP: Thanks a lot and completely satisfied holidays, all people.

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