Friday, December 24, 2010

Handel's Messiah - 'Pastoral Symphony'

Back in Handel's day, the aristocracy amused themselves during Christmas parties by dressing as the poor shepherds that abided in the fields watching over their flocks by night and doing God knows what else. They would sing Christmas carols while thus in drag. This practice is still followed today in the Heights and gated subdivisions in West Little Rock. Anyway, Handel knew his audience and so he wrote an instrumental interlude before bringing on the shepherds in the Christmas section of "Messiah." This interlude is called "pifa" which if memory serves, and it will have to because I am too lazy to actually do research, the sonorous sound that Handel wrote into the strings resembles the shepherd's pipes. It eventually became known as the "Pastoral Symphony" for no other reason than it sounds snootier than a piece about shepherd's pipes.

Anyway, there is a long "pifa" and a short one which is used if the director of the program wants to Get On With It. I give you the long version just because I think "pifa" is one of the best parts of "Messiah."

And no, it's not 'Handel's Messiah."