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GEORGE FREDERICK HANDEL
important, if we wish to render this music truly, than the avoidance of upsetting the equilibrium of the various sections of the orchestra under the pretext of enriching it and bringing it up to date. The worse fault is to deprive it, by a useless surplus of tone-colours, of that suppleness and subtlety of nuance which is its principal charm.
One is prone to accept too readily the idea, that expressive nuance is a privilege of the modern musical art, and that Handel's orchestra knew only the great theatrical contrasts between force and sweetness, or loudness and softness. It is nothing of the kind. The range of Handel's nuances is extremely varied. One finds with him the pianissimo, the piano, the mezzo piano, the mezzo forte, un poco più F, un poco F, forte, fortissimo. We never find the orchestral crescendo and decrescendo, which hardly appears marked expressly until the time of Jommelli, and the school of Mannheim; but there is no doubt that it was practised long before it was marked in the music. The President of Brosses wrote in 1739 from Rome: "The voices, like the violins, used with light and shade, with unconscious swelling of sound, which augments the force from note to note, even to a very high degree,
- Dr. Hermann Abert has found the first indication: crescendo il forte in Jommelli's Artaserse, performed at Rome in 1749. In the eighteenth century the Abbé Vogler and Schubart already had attributed the invention of the Crescendo to Jommelli.
- See Lucien Kamiensky: Mannheim und Italien (Sammelbände der I.M.G., January-March, 1909).