New Handel work heard for first time in 300 years

A newly discovered cantata by Handel will be heard for the first time in around 300 years at a concert in Holland. American musicologist John Roberts uncovered the treasure while working his way through the collection of Dutch harpsichordist, conductor and collector Ton Koopman.

‘It is an earlier but very different version of the cantata Tu fedel? Tu costante?, HWV 171,’ said Koopman on his website. ‘Only the first aria is substantially the same, while the three remaining arias are entirely new. [It] also differs from the later version in calling for an oboe in addition to two violins and basso continuo.’

Koopman plans to share his good fortune by conducting the piece at a Concertgebouw concert in Amsterdam on 9 April. Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and Choir will play the piece, with work by JS Bach, Christoph Graupner and Pietro Locatelli also in the programme.

Roberts, who is emeritus head of the music library at UC Berkeley, said the piece was probably composed in Venice of Florence prior to Handel’s arrival in Rome in late 1706. Musical similarities with numerous other works make his authorship almost certain.

Koopman plans to release a CD recording of the song shortly after the Concertgebouw concert, while Roberts will include a version in the Handel collection Hallische Händel-Ausgabe.

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