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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: 21 minutes 17 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 7 in G minor, HWV432
composer
published in London in 1720 as part of a set of Suites de pièces pour le clavecin

Ouverture  [6'07]
Andante  [3'21]
Allegro  [2'25]
Sarabande  [3'23]
Gigue  [1'35]

Other recordings available for download
Paul Nicholson (harpsichord/virginals)
Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Suite No 7 in G minor owes its character to its key, which Charpentier had called ‘sévère et magnifique’ and which was shortly to become Mozart’s key of tragedy and consequence. But this suite is to a degree equivocal because although it starts with a pompous and circumstantial French overture, with a slow introduction complete with double dots and shooting scales which outdo Lully himself in rhetorical ostentation, the succeeding quick fugal section is not the conventional triple-rhythmed round-dance, but is in common time, and is indeed a bit ‘common’ in mood and manner – like the quick fugato from the overture to Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, which follows the royally tragic grandeur of the introduction with the chattering of demotic witches. Handel’s fugato has the same pounding rhythm, on the verge of chuckling risibility. The orthodox return to grandeur in the slow coda does not quite convince, and perhaps is not meant to.

After this highly theatrical overture, an Andante and Allegro (really a French allemande and Italian corrente) are discreet, consistently in two parts, one for each hand, with canonic imitations. The sarabande, more harmonic in texture, is heart-easingly lyrical, flowering into additional ornamentation in the repeats. The conventionally Italianate gigue is unpretentious, but Handel adds as finale a massive passacaille: not a series of melodic extensions over an unvarying linear ground, as in Dido’s ‘Lament’, but a set of variations over a chord sequence, beginning in diatonic homophony but increasingly chromaticized into diminished sevenths (the stock operatic ‘chord of horror’, since it consists of two interlinked and rootless tritones). Significantly, this piece is not in the triple rhythm typical of processional passacaglias (and of chaconnes and sarabandes) but is rather in a common time relating back to the fugato section of the overture. It marches remorselessly, generating increasingly virtuosic figuration. There is nothing like this in Bach, and its effect is remarkably similar to that of Handel’s monumentally public choruses in his oratorios. If this Handelian passacaille is ceremonial, it is a procession no longer of court dignitaries, but of affluent British burghers.

from notes by Wilfrid Mellers © 1995


Other albums featuring this work
'Handel: Harpsichord Suites' (CDD22045)
Handel: Harpsichord Suites
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'Hyperion monthly sampler – May 2014' (HYP201405)
Hyperion monthly sampler – May 2014
MP3 £0.00FLAC £0.00ALAC £0.00 FREE DOWNLOAD HYP201405  Download-only monthly sampler  

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