Handel's B-Flat Concerto arranged for LEVER harp by Darhon Rees-Rohrbacher
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For LEVER harp only.
Handel’s B-flat Concerto is one of the best-known harp pieces. Darhon Rees-Rohrbacher started with the original manuscript, and made an arrangement for 34 to 40-string lever harps that holds true to the spirit Handel originally intended. It is for advanced lever harpists, as there are extensive lever changes. Darhon has included performance notes and an explanation of the ornamentations used. Some fingerings are included. This is the 2015 revised version. This 21-page PDF includes 16 pages of music.
Here’s what Darhon says about this arrangement in her introduction:
When Handel wrote his famous 1736 concerto for harp, two flutes, string ensemble and continuo, the result was a charming concerto of modest proportions. In fact, it was used as incidental music for the ode Alexander’s Feast, later revised by Handel for other performances in 1739, 1742 and 1751. By modern standards, we would hardly consider his opus to be a virtuoso vehicle for the concert harp. Handel’s notation appears rather "sparse" on the page compared with later transcriptions of the work.
The original Handel harp part resembled nothing like the rather grandiose transcriptions done by harp masters Carlos Salzedo and Marcel Grandjany. The triplestrung harps of Handel’s day had a much smaller bass range than the modern concert harp and were more lightly strung, enabling the performer to "dance lightly" on the strings. With all respect to the genius of Messrs. Salzedo and Grandjany, certain aspects of their interpretations were heavily influenced by the greater range, string tension and technical capabilities of the late romantic double-action pedal harp. This instrument had not been invented by Handel’s time.
In this transcription of Handel’s famous harp concerto, I have attempted to capture the "spirit" of the original version. However, the chords have been filled out slightly, some tasteful ornamentation, passing tones, octave adjustments and harpistic flourishes have been added here and there. I have tried to maintain some of the customary inner voicing that has become traditional in the performance of this work. First and second ending indications have been added in order to facilitate page turns in some repeated sections.
It is not my intent to produce any sort of "historically accurate" document that rigidly adheres to the rules of Baroque counterpoint, even though numerous historical sources were consulted in the development of this transcription. Rather, I am providing a more "reasonable" solo version of this wonderful concerto that can be played on a harp similar in size to what was available in the late Baroque era. It is my hope that students, teachers, and Baroque lovers will enjoy this version.
Please note: Full-sized lever harps typically range from 36 to 40 strings. Wherever any bass note exceeds the "low C" of the 36-string lever harp, I have indicated that note in parenthesis. However, harps that possess the additional bass strings should play these notes at all times. This transcription can also be played on a 34-string lever harp (low C) with only minor alterations in a few upper notes.
This arrangement is for LEVER harp. Click here for Darhon's PEDAL harp version.