Bach greatly admired the music of his forebears and was often criticized for his traditionalist approach to composition. Nevertheless, we find in his music many works that were forward-looking and innovative, favoring the rococo and galant styles that were taking hold throughout Europe.
The Missa in A Major is a curious amalgam of the traditional and contemporary, featuring a pair of a relatively “new” instrument on the scene, the flauto traverso. Bach’s explorations into the most up-do-date styles of his era came to monumental fruition in his last works, including The Musical Offering, a lofty zenith of Bach’s practically scientific application of musical forms that culminates in his most superbly crafted Trio Sonata.
Handel’s Water Music Suite that features the Baroque flute is paired with his charming Concerto Grosso in G Major, another work that brings the sweet-toned traverso front and center. Handel’s mellifluous setting of Look Down, Harmonious Saint, a paean to harmony by the 18th-century Irish author and poet, Newburgh Hamilton, praises music’s ability to “charm the soul, delight the ear, give us hope, and conquer fear.”