Now that we’ve seen what Handel does with Every Valley and Isaiah generally, I thought it might be fun to see what someone else does with the same text. Also, of course, we sang this piece on Sunday and I loved it immediately.
Michael Wise was born nearly forty years before Handel, but died quite young – in a duel, if I recall correctly – so their paths did not cross. And nor did their music. If you thought that Handel liked to show off occasionally by using music to illustrate the words, well, he had nothing on Wise, who took this to an extreme degree. I especially like ‘the crooked shall be made straight’, and later ‘get the up into the mountains’, though the bit where the grass withereth is also good. Wise feels much earlier than Handel, to my ear. Where Handel pretty much wrote the book on English Baroque Oratorios, Wise was still playing with verse anthems, and harks back much more to Gibbons in his style of composing. Which is better? I really couldn’t say. I’d hate to do without either of them.