George Frédéric Handel. Largo from Xerxes.
Janice Ortega, harp. Roberta Brokaw, flute.
Music Faculty of California State University East Bay.
Largo is the popular title of an aria composed by Handel for his opera, Xerxes, in 1738. Although the opera failed after only five performances, it found a rebirth of interest in the following century.
“It was performed at solemn occasions such as funerals and weddings. It was arranged for all sorts of instruments and voices. The aria is sung by the main character, Xerxes I of Persia while he is admiring the shade of a tree. The original tempo is larghetto (a little slow and solemn). The aria is short. It is only 52 bars long and is approximately four minutes in length. In the opera, a string section accompanies the singer. “
Recordings of the aria feature a variety of instrumental pairings – violin and organ, violin and piano, trombone and piano, symphonic contrapuntal arrangements, piano duet, and more. In this performance, the voice of the main character is played by the harp while the flute plays an accompaniment.