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 Post subject: Handel - 9 Suites for Harpsichord (1733)
PostPosted: Tue Feb 10, 2009 10:04 pm 
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JOVE THE MIGHTY THUNDERER
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9 Suites for Harpsichord (1733)

Although these suites were published as a set in 1733, some of them had appeared in other forms several years earlier and there is no real stylistic cohesion between the works. Rather, they give us an overview of many of the different influences that Handel took on board throughout his early life. As if to draw our attention to this, some of the titles are in English, some in French and others in Italian – the three main foreign influences that shaped his style.

It is possible that some of the harpsichord pieces were composed as lesson material for the princesses under Handel’s tutelage. Certain of them, particularly the preludes and variations, seem to invite improvisation and embellishment from the player even more than was to be expected in this period. Maybe it was his intention that the music should stimulate his pupils’ fantasy rather than be rigorously adhered to in its own right. What is certainly clear is that Handel brought his own melodic inventiveness very much to the fore throughout his keyboard writing. Just as in his larger-scale works, it is this vitality that makes his music so pleasing and memorable.
See more at Chandos.net


Suite No. 1 in B flat major
Prelude
Sonata
Aria con variazioni
Minuet

The First Suite is not really a suite at all, simply a collection of pieces in the same key. The only dance movement is the Minuet in the relative minor which forms a rather poignant end to the group. The opening Prelude alternates grandiose arpeggiated chords with scalic passages and you might recognise it as the theme used by Tippet in his Fantasia on a Theme of Handel. The Sonata which follows is reminiscent of Handel’s string writing, with its energetic semiquavers often echoing one another in different parts. The Aria con variazioni (whose theme was later taken up by Brahms) is a little reminder of the more famous ‘Harmonious Blacksmith’ variations, climaxing in a similarly grand style.
See more at Chandos.net


Below are the Sonata and Minuet performed by Sophie Yates from Volume 1 of her excellent 3 volume series of Handel harpsichord music. The sonata is an exuberant and fun piece, whilst the menuet is a pretty as you could wish, with a hint of melancholy.
http://www.amazon.com/Handel-Keyboard-W ... B00001T6KZ
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Enjoy! Any coments welcome.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2009 2:35 pm 
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JOVE THE MIGHTY THUNDERER
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Suite No. 2 in G minor
Chaconne

‘Suite’ No. 2 is a magnificent chaconne with twenty-one variations, some of which have a French flavour, adding elegance to the massive scale of the piece. Here, Handel takes advantage of the larger compass of the eighteenth-century harpsichord and all its colours to create varied and dramatic effects. We know that Handel owned a harpsichord made by Ruckers, the most highly prized maker in Europe at this time, and Sophie Yates has chosen a modern copy of a similar instrument for this disc.
See more at chandos.net


We have already discussed the Chacone in my topic on Handel's '8 Grande Suites', but as it actually belongs in this set here it is again in it's rightful place. Below we have a great performance by Olivier Baumont. This piece is a genuine tour-de-force in Handel's heroic mode..

From the CD..
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Handel-Harpsich ... B000024SXZ
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Enjoy. Any comments welcome.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2009 11:10 pm 
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LIEUTENANT COLONEL
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Suite in B Flat Major

Sonata
Great playing by the soloist. This is a really rollicking movement. Nice melody. I like how the left hand sets everything up for the right.

Minuet
This is nice and dark sounding. Very elegant and understated.

Thanks for the samples!

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2009 11:40 pm 
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JOVE THE MIGHTY THUNDERER
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TrumpetBoy wrote:
Suite in B Flat Major

Sonata
Great playing by the soloist. This is a really rollicking movement. Nice melody. I like how the left hand sets everything up for the right.

Minuet
This is nice and dark sounding. Very elegant and understated.

Thanks for the samples!


You're welcome, I haven't heard a finer Handel harpsichordist than Sophie Yates. Don't forget the Chaconne too, that's something else! The 1733 collection (and that is effectively what it is, a collection of odds and ends from various times and places not originally designed for publication) is regarded as the poor relation to the 1720 '8 grande suites', which is a more uniformly 'beefed up' collection. Nevertheless the '9 suites' are packed with some great music too.

There is more to come from the remaining suites but I recomend those who haven't already done so visit my topic on the 1720 collection...
http://classicalmusicmayhem.freeforums. ... -t767.html

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2009 12:49 am 
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LIEUTENANT COLONEL
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Chaccone from Suite 2 in G Minor.

This has some teeth to it. Holy left hand madness! This is, again, a performer to be taken very seriously. There is so much going on in this. Fugues, counterpoint. Yet, in some ways it feels stripped down; it's just so concise and to the point. I really liked this. I really can't believe this was a 'throw-away'.

While saying that, I almost feel like this could fit in the Salon. Or, perhaps I should say I could imagine it being played in a salon :)

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2009 1:32 am 
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Suite Nr1 - Sonata
This has a good dramatic drive to it. A thrivingly dynamic passage.

Suite Nr1 - Minuet
A sustaining minuet with good movement to it.

Chaconne
What more can I possibly say about this? Some of the most impressive variations I've ever heard.

I looked for Yates' set over at Amazon.com but if I remember correctly it was out of print and quite expensive. A shame. Thanks for the samples, Rod.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2009 1:58 am 
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Sorin Eushayson wrote:
I looked for Yates' set over at Amazon.com but if I remember correctly it was out of print and quite expensive. A shame. Thanks for the samples, Rod.



You could always order the set from amazon.co.uk--I do that all the time if I can't find it at amazon.com. Your regular userid and password should work just fine. I assume their mp3 service works the same, but I haven't tried that part so couldn't tell you for sure.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2009 2:34 am 
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MORPHEUS, KEEPER OF DREAMS
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Suite No. 1 in B flat major

Sonata
Boy that's some fun writing. Lots of drive and vigor to it and it doesn't let up at all. Love that the right and left hands echo each other throughout.

Minuet
I liked this minuet. Elegant, but not frivolous


Suite No. 2 in G minor
Chaconne
This is a magnficent piece. There are so many layers of textures in this one that it is difficult to keep them all straight. The harpsichord has a very mellow sound too--sometiems they can sound quite harsh.

I think I'm going to have to get these sets from Sophie Yates, they're that good.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2009 10:01 am 
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JOVE THE MIGHTY THUNDERER
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Thanks for the reviews, there is some beautiful music to come. The 3 Yates volumes are still readily available in HMV here, but Baumont's CD disappeared years ago. If you want to hear Yates' take on the Chaconne go to the '8 Grande Suites' topic. The consensus was that Baumont's was the better of the two performances, hence it's lone appearance here.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2009 1:32 pm 
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JOVE THE MIGHTY THUNDERER
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For those who haven't seen this link I first posted in the previous topic, here is a site for more Handel harpsichord music, including as 62 variation version of the Chaconne!
http://www.gfhbaroque.it/sala_del_cemba ... ring-5.htm

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 13, 2009 8:40 pm 
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Suite No. 3 in D minor
Allemande
Allegro
Air
Gigue
Menuetto

The Third and Fourth Suites are much more conventional, containing dance movements with a high degree of thematic unity between them – so much so that in his allemandes and courantes Handel seems almost to be looking back to Froberger. Variations occur in both suites; a graceful Menuetto in the third and the famous Saraband of the fourth are adorned in this way. The third suite differs in its lack of courante and sarabande, instead it has an Allegro and a touchingly expressive Air.
See more at Chandos.net

Here from Nr3 we have the 'touchingly expressive Air', for that is an apt description, and one that would not be out of place with regard to the Menuetto variations as well...

http://www.amazon.com/Handel-Keyboard-W ... B00001T6KZ
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Enjoy! Any coments welcome.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 13, 2009 9:14 pm 
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MORPHEUS, KEEPER OF DREAMS
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The Air is very nice, but I very much liked the gigue from the same suite. The meneutto is a lovely graceful thing.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 13, 2009 9:46 pm 
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smileyman wrote:
The Air is very nice, but I very much liked the gigue from the same suite. The meneutto is a lovely graceful thing.

Well there is only so much I can present here so hard choices have to be made, but my aim is to present a variety of forms across the 9 suites. It appears you have wisely got your hands on the Vol1 disk, you'l be happy to know that the other two are at least as good if not better.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 13, 2009 9:53 pm 
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Rod Corkin wrote:
smileyman wrote:
The Air is very nice, but I very much liked the gigue from the same suite. The meneutto is a lovely graceful thing.

Well there is only so much I can present here so hard choices have to be made, but my aim is to present a variety of forms across the 9 suites. It appears you have wisely got your hands on the Vol1 disk, you'l be happy to know that the other two are at least as good if not better.

I've got Vol 2 as well. Will eventually get Vol 3 once I get through these and the stack of other discs I need to listen to. :D

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 14, 2009 4:11 am 
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Suite Nr3 - Air
Everything I would expect of an air from Handel.

Suite Nr3 - Menuetto
A lighter, more elegant menuetto. I'm used to hearing Bach's rather heavy Germanic harpsichord menuetti; this is an interesting and quite lovely approach.

Sounds good, thanks Rod. Handel's harpsichord work will probably make my next big round of shopping.

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