Did any musician of the 18th century better understand the human condition than Handel? In L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato (first performed in London, February 1740), his evocation of our ways, moods, motivations, demeanour is distilled, shorn of narrative, left to speak for itself.
Milton’s poetry and Handel’s music express the essence of joy and the essence of sorrow. And all this resides in natural settings, whose colours and character excite Handel’s imagination to the point where L’Allegro may fairly be called a pastoral. The countryside is its backdrop, country pursuits its measure.