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Track(s) taken from CDA68041/2

Suite No 5 in E major, HWV430

circa 1710; published in London in 1720 as part of a set of Suites de pièces pour le clavecin

Danny Driver (piano)
Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Studio Master:
Studio Master:
Recording details: April 2013
Potton Hall, Dunwich, Suffolk, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by David Hinitt
Release date: May 2014
Total duration: 11 minutes 58 seconds

Cover artwork: Statue of Lord Macaulay (1868, detail) by Thomas Woolner (1825-1892)
Chapel of Trinity College, Cambridge

Other recordings available for download

Paul Nicholson (harpsichord/virginals)


'The scalic flourishes of the First Suite’s Prelude instantly reveal Driver’s nimble fingerwork, meticulous control over dynamic accentuation on key harmonic features and judicious use of the sustain pedal. The rippling D minor arpeggios of the Prelude to Suite No 3 transfer to the piano thrillingly … most of Handel’s French-style intricate dance movements are played with dignified tenderness: the consecutive allemandes and courantes always have a delicate balance between cantabile warmth in the elegant upper melody, softly precise inner details and a lightly flowing bass-line. The quick Fugue that launches Suite No 4 in E minor has a sparkling clarity that any eminent Baroque specialist keyboardist would be pleased with … an engagingly post-historical approach' (Gramophone)» More

'Handel the organist and improviser features just as strongly in these suites as Handel the exquisite miniaturist and inspired master of counterpoint. Driver brings to it all a winning sense of style, crisply ornamented, sensitively drawing on the piano’s tonal potential for shadings of colour and alert to the rhythmic energy that Handel can generate.To hear in succession the tiny contemplative adagio of the Second Suite followed by its bright fugal allegro and then the quasi-improvisatory organ-like prelude of the Third Suite is to appreciate just how compellingly Driver intuits the music’s rich diversity' (The Daily Telegraph)» More

'When performed with such commitment and expressive vitality, Handel’s suites are worthy to be placed alongside the finest, and these performances by Danny Driver are a welcome addition to the discography … Driver's impeccable technique, which is in abundant display here, with immaculate clarity of texture, neat and unfussy ornamentation, and with voice-leading all brought out to fine effect … what is so remarkable about these performances is the combination of textural clarity with the richness of tone afforded by Driver’s Steinway … I feel sure that Handel would have been only too delighted with these results … for those who prefer the piano, Driver provides the ideal alternative. It comes with fabulously eloquent notes from Richard Wigmore (in which every movement comes alive in his prose, a remarkable feat in itself) and a recording quality that captures every finest detail' (International Record Review)» More
Suite No 5 in E major is a step further up the cycle of fifths from ‘youthful’ A major and E is the sharpest (and ‘highest’) key in general use. It was traditionally associated with heaven, but in the works of Handel it would seem that paradise is firmly terrestrial. True, the free-flowing prelude, the allemande and the courante are all lucidly gracious, but Handel dispenses with a sarabande and as his finale offers a variation-set on a tune so earthy in metrical symmetry and diatonic in harmonization that it quickly won the popular title of ‘The Harmonious Blacksmith’. Again, Handel steers aristocratic finesse towards a rawly demotic future. Though Handel’s blacksmith, benign in harmony, may attempt celestial levitation in the shooting scales of his final variation, the effect is more comic than transcendent.

from notes by Wilfrid Mellers © 1995

La Suite no5 en mi majeur se situe à un échelon plus élevé dans le cycle de quintes au ton «jeune» de la majeur, et est composée dans la clé la plus diésée (et la plus «haute») habituellement utilisée. Cette tonalité était traditionnellement associée au paradis, mais les œuvres de Hændel semblent indiquer que le paradis est bel et bien terrestre. Il est vrai que le Prélude fluide, l’Allemande et la Courante sont gracieux et lucides, mais Hændel supprime la Sarabande et offre comme Finale une série de variations sur une mélodie qui fut bientôt surnommée «Le Forgeron Harmonieux», à cause de sa grande symétrie métrique et de son harmonie diatonique. Encore une fois, Hændel dirige la finesse aristocratique vers un avenir âpre et démotique. Même si le forgeron de Hændel, de ses harmonies légères, semble tenter une lévitation céleste dans les gammes ascendantes de sa dernière variation, l’effet est plus comique que transcendant.

extrait des notes rédigées par Wilfrid Mellers © 1995
Français: Isabelle Dubois

Die Suite Nr. 5 in E-Dur geht innerhalb des Quintenzirkels einen Schritt weiter als das „jugendliche“ A-Dur und ist die schrillste (und „höchste“) allgemein benutzte Tonart. Traditionell wurde sie mit dem Himmel in Verbindung gebracht, aber im Werke Händels scheint es, als sei das Paradies fest auf Erden verankert. Zwar sind das frei dahinfließende Präludium, die Allemande und die Courante alle von einer lichten Anmut, doch verzichtet Händel auf eine Sarabande und bietet als Finale einen Satz von Variationen über eine Melodie, die in ihrer metrischen Symmetrie und diatonischen Harmonik so irdisch klingt, daß sie sich bald den populären Titel „Der harmonische Grobschmied“ erwarb. Wieder einmal lenkt Händel hier aristokratische Feinheit in eine unverbrämt volkstümliche Zukunft. Obwohl Händels durch milde Harmonien gekennzeichneter Grobschmied in den jagenden Läufen seiner letzten Variation ein Emporschweben in die himmlischen Sphären anstreben mag, so ist der erzielte Effekt doch eher komisch als transzendental.

aus dem Begleittext von Wilfrid Mellers © 1995
Deutsch: Angelika Malbert

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