Overture to Teseo, HWV 9
George Frideric Handel
The versatility of the baroque oboe and bassoon is demonstrated in the two movements of Handel’s overture to the opera Teseo. They complement the violin and cello lines, creating a composite sonority that is frequently found in Handel’s orchestral writing. The overture opens with a stately Largo with dotted (long-short) rhythms and flourishes characteristic of the French overture. However, instead of the expected fugal Allegro, it shifts to an Italianate concerto after the initial entries of the fugue subject, with running passages in the first violin punctuated by accompaniment from the rest of the band. A cascading scale makes a false start ending on a surprising grand pause before the Largo resumes. Instead of the customary minuet, Handel appends a concerto grosso movement, pitting a contrapuntal fugue for the trio of oboes and bassoon against a bustling flurry of strings.