Handel: Cantatas; Arias
Helen Watts; Robert Tear
Catalogue No.

Of the works by Handel presented here, three are cantatas devoted to the Patron Saint of music, St. Cecilia, another is an Italian cantata that was probably presented for a private patron in Rome while the remaining two works are drawn from Handel’s unique set of ‘Neun Deutsche Arien’ (Nos. 4 & 6 in the supposed original numbering), composed around 1724 to texts by Barthold Heinrich Brockes, the Hamburg poet and city official whose vernacular text of the Passion was set to music by several eighteenth-century composers, including Handel.

Brockes himself was pleased to note of the German Arias that ‘the world-renowned virtuoso, Mr. Handel, set these to music in a very special manner.’ They have attracted many fine singers on record but few with so acute a feeling for Handel’s word-painting as the tenor, Robert Tear.

The three Italian cantatas composed between 1707 and 1737 and sung by the great Welsh contralto Helen Watts, display the singer’s complete command of Italian, her flair for dramatic declamation and her highly sophisticated and agile coloratura technique, surprising perhaps to those who hear in her voice the typical heavier English “oratorio” contralto sound.

The British harpsichordist, musicologist and conductor, Raymond Leppard directed these performances with Helen Watts from the harpsichord (built by Thomas Goff) with his colleagues of the English Chamber Orchestra providing stylish accompaniments. Watts lent distinction to many Handel recordings of the 1960s and 70s, including ‘Messiah’ directed by Sir Colin Davis as well as pioneering recordings of ‘Jephtha’ and ‘Semele’ (reissued on Decca Eloquence 482 5055).


Cantata ‘Splenda l’alba in oriente’, HWV 166
Cantata ‘Carco sempre di gloria’, HWV 87
Cantata ‘Tu Fedel? Tu Costante?’, HWV 171

Helen Watts, contralto
English Chamber Orchestra
Raymond Leppard

Cantata ‘Look down harmonious Saint’, HWV 124

Neun Deutschen Arien:
No. 6: Meine Seele hört im Sehen, HWV 207
No. 4 : Süsse Stille, sanfter Quelle, HWV 205

Robert Tear, tenor
Academy of St. Martin in the Fields
Neville Marriner

Track previews
Meine Seele hört im Sehen, HWV 207
Süsse Stille, sanfter Quelle, HWV 205
Cantata: Splenda l'alba in oriente, HWV 166: Aria: Splenda l'alba in oriente
Cantata: Splenda l'alba in oriente, HWV 166: Recit: Tu, armonica Cecilia.Aria: La virtute è un vero nume
Cantata: Carco sempre di gloria, HWV 87: Recit: Carco sempre di gloria.Aria: Sei del Ciel dono perfetto
Cantata: Carco sempre di gloria: Aria: Sei cara, sei bella
"Tu Fedel? Tu Costante?", HWV 171: Sonata
"Tu Fedel? Tu Costante?", HWV 171: Recit: Tu fidel? Tu constante?.Aria: Cento belle ami, Fileno
"Tu Fedel? Tu Costante?", HWV 171: Recit: L'occhio nero vivace.Aria: Se Licori, Filli ed io
"Tu Fedel? Tu Costante?", HWV 171: Recit: Ma se non hai più d'un sol cuore.Aria: Se non ti piace
"Tu Fedel? Tu Costante?", HWV 171: Recit: Ma il tuo genio.Aria: Sì crudel, ti lascierò
Look Down Harmonious Saint, HWV 124: Recitative: Look Down, Look Down
Look Down Harmonious Saint, HWV 124: Aria: Sweet Accents all Your Numbers Grace
Recording information

Recording Producer: Michael Bremner
Balance Engineers: Kenneth Wilkinson (Helen Watts); Stanley Goodall, Peter van Biene (Robert Tear)
Recording Locations: Kingsway Hall, London, UK, 16–17 March 1961 (Helen Watts); St. John’s, Smith Square, London, UK, 27–29 November 1969 (Robert Tear)
Original LP Releases: L’Oiseau-Lyre SOL 60046 (Helen Watts); Argo ZRG 661 (Robert Tear)
Remastering Engineer: Chris Bernauer


‘Helen Watts, with her exceptionally flexible and well-focused contralto voice and excellent breath control fulfils the technical demands more than competently … Raymond Leppard gets wonderfully spirited playing from the English Chamber Orchestra … an immensely enjoyable record.’ Gramophone, April 1962