As we move towards Easter, we move also towards 'Handel Week', the next Handel extravaganza in the BBC's schedule, from 12 to19 April. I'm greatly looking forward to this - especially all the live or recently recorded music the week holds in store. For instance, Lawrence Cummings' recent recording of 'The Eight Great Keyboard Suites' will be featured, with Lawrence himself talking about it on the Early Music Show on Easter Sunday...
There'll also be a nice look backwards, though, with Classical Collection featuring a week of 'Historical Handel on Record'. Given that the resurgence of interest in Handel (outside the perennially popular oratorio) dates back to the first decades of the twentieth century, there will certainly be some interesting early recordings to discuss. Indeed, the ornamental antics of opera singers to the present day could provide amusement (I suggested the BBC might run a competition to find the modern singer Handel would be most likely to drop out the window (his threat to the prima donna, Francesca Cuzzoni in 1723), but for some reason they weren't keen...).
But of course, there are two reasons for choosing 12-19 April for 'Handel week'. In the eighteenth century, Messiah was always performed at this time of year, its association with Passiontide far stronger than with Christmas; and this week also marks the 250th anniversary of the composer's death. It's entirely fitting that on that date, 14th April, Messiah will be broadcast live from Westminster Abbey on Performance on 3. I, for one, will be glued to my radio. BBC1 will also be showing a documentary on Messiah on Good Friday (the 10th), in which I appear (if I make it through the cutting room).