Il trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno (1707) is a young Handel’s brilliant take on the timeless tale of the fleeting nature of Beauty. Pursued by Time, she turns away from ephemeral Pleasure towards Enlightenment. Il Trionfo contains music of irresistible invention, daring virtuosity and technicolour brilliance.
This is also is a landmark in baroque music. It is the first of Handel’s oratorios, showcasing the astonishing flowering of his genius in Italy in his early twenties. At the first performance, Corelli led the orchestra. It was a touchstone for Handel, who would later mine Il Trionfo for many of his Italian operas, notably ‘Lascia la spina’ (‘Leave the thorn, gather the rose’) – later reborn as ‘Lascia ch’io pianga’. The final movement – a duet for Beauty (soprano) and violin – remains one of the most exquisitely ravishing things he wrote.