John H. Roberts
University of California, Berkeley
Late or Soon: Cadential Timing in Early 18th-Century recitativo semplice
How to perform cadential chords in early eighteenth-century simple recitative is one of those questions that seems never to go away. For many years it was assumed that however they were notated the two continuo chords should be delayed till after the voice had finished. Then gradually, under the influence of various scholars, the pendulum swung in the direction of sounding the chords earlier, overlapping with the vocal cadence. Nonetheless there has been continuing confusion about how widely and in what way this principle should be applied, and some performers have invented solutions that have no basis in historical practice. This paper interrogates contemporary sources, textual and musical, in an effort to clarify this pervasive but slippery convention, with particular reference to Handel.