City Recital Hall, Sydney
July 4, 2015

You might think the baroque art of the pasticcio sounds like the toothsome output of some 18th-century pastry maker’s workshop but you’d be wrong. Substitute composer for chef however and you’re closer to the mark. The form acquired a dubious reputation as the hastily cobbled together melodious droppings from the tables of the greats at a time when copyright law was a distant gleam in the musical eye. Certainly there were the opportunistic who worried less about craft than box office, coming up with the period equivalent of We Will Rock You. A skilful impresario, however – like Handel, say – could lavish time, energy and expertise and come up with a very enjoyable hit – think Mamma Miain wigs and frocks.

The historical tale of Bajazet was a popular one at the time. The bloody Battle of Ankara in 1402 saw Sultan Bayezid the First defeated and captured by his arch-rival, the Mongol warlord Timur (aka Tamerlano or Tamburlaine). The story surrounding the protagonists at this precise moment in history inspired writers and composers for centuries – a moral tale of hubris, revenge, lust and some embellished romantic passion. Handel wrote his...