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Hyperion Records

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Statue of Lord Macaulay (1868, detail) by Thomas Woolner (1825-1892)
Chapel of Trinity College, Cambridge
Track(s) taken from CDA68041/2
Recording details: April 2013
Potton Hall, Dunwich, Suffolk, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by David Hinitt
Release date: May 2014
Total duration: 22 minutes 7 seconds

'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 3 in D minor, HWV428
composer
published in London in 1720 as part of a set of Suites de pièces pour le clavecin

Prelude  [1'01]
Allegro: Fugue  [2'32]
Allemande  [3'46]
Courante  [1'32]
Presto  [4'25]

Other recordings available for download
Paul Nicholson (harpsichord/virginals)
Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Suite No 3 in D minor has a prelude which is a wildly whirling toccata with a dotted-rhythm subject in which the dots may or may not be reiterated throughout the entries. A dotted-rhythmed allemande reminds us that Charpentier had described the key of D minor as ‘grave et dévot’; and a certain wistfulness, if not gravity, is preserved in the Italianate corrente. But the next movement abandons the format of a conventional suite, being an air with variations. The air itself, like that of Bach’s ‘Goldberg’ Variations, is richly ornamented, and approaches Bachian sublimity. The five variations, however, eschew this old-world formal and spiritual grace, simply taking over the air’s harmonic base and adding lyrical semiquavers for the right hand. The second variation inverts this, placing the chord sequence in the right hand, the semiquavers in the left. The third variation has melodic but sturdily metrical parts for treble and bass which define the fundamental harmonies, leaving the semiquavers to form a middle part. The fourth variation jigs the tune in 12/8, and the fifth and final variation, in broken chords, is the plainest but also the most energetic. Unlike Bach, Handel does not return to his seraphically ornate aria but whisks this climactic variation into a final presto in 3/8, aggressive in muscularity, its thrust reinforced with trills.

from notes by Wilfrid Mellers © 1995


Other albums featuring this work
'Handel: Harpsichord Suites' (CDD22045)
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'Edwin Fischer – The First Beethoven Sonata Recordings' (APR5502)
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