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'Handel Goes Wild' with L'arpeggiata on Classical101: WOSU

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Picture it: George Frideric Händel's music played like jazz, complete with improv, riffs, sparkling syncopations and blisteringly virtuosic licks. Sound outrageous? Not really, says Christina Pluhar, founder and director of early music ensemble L'arpeggiata. "For Händel, improvisation was extremely important, and for all the musicians from that time, as well," Pluhar said in a recent phone interview. "They all were great improvisers." That's the basic rationale behind L'arpeggiata's most recent recording, Händel Goes Wild, featuring some of Händel's most famous arias in jazz interpretations rich with revved-up chord changes and exhilarating improv sets. That's also why, since founding L'arpeggiata in 2000, Pluhar and her collaborators have worked improvisation into their performances.

"Right from the beginning, we wanted to include improvisation in our playing of early music as much as possible," Pluhar said. "And so we started improvising on different pieces from the 17th century, just to include this aspect more and more in our performance practice."

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