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Handel's Water Music Suite in D Major Essay – Luke Grey

The first performance of The Water Music Suite in D was at a party for King George I on the River Thames. The most commonly performed order of the pieces included in the suite was: The unnamed “Allegro” allegro movement, which serves as an overture of sorts; the “Alla Hornpipe” movement; the Menuet movement and then the Lentement and Bourée. The piece was played with natural horns and trumpets, making the player restricted in the notes available to them. The piece was written for 'outdoor' instruments for ease of hearing when on the river, and this was the first time horns were ever effectively used within an orchestra. Instruments were also almost certainly doubled

Allegro

The allegro movement starts off in the tonic key opening with a D major chord which sounds rather stately, almost like an announcement. After this, the trumpets play fanfare-like ideas in a repeated crotchet motif with an upbeat. The strings and oboes play two descending D major scales in unison. After this at bar 5, beat 2½, the fanfare ideas are then echoed in the horns with the bassoon and “basso” playing the string/ oboe motif heard in the opening 4 bars, with an octave repetition. There is antiphonal texture throughout, and Handel divides the orchestra into two distinct groups. Group 1 – oboes, trumpets, violins and violas. Group 2 – Bassoons, horns, cellos and basso. After this at bar 9 beat 3, there is a brief cadential idea (V – I) between the two groups.

The entire movement is based around a series of short phrases (half a bar to 4 bars long). Statements made by trumpets and higher instruments (group 1) are then repeated by horns and lower instruments (an octave lower). This pattern continues until bar 37. Most phrases begin and end with either tonic or dominant harmony. In bar 15, the trumpets (and group 1)...

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