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Track(s) taken from CDA68041/2

Suite No 8 in F minor, HWV433

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: 12 minutes 3 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)
Angela Hewitt (piano)


'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 8 in F minor reminds us that just as E major, being the sharpest major key in common use, was considered heavenly, so F minor, the flattest minor key in common use, was deemed apposite to infernal matters. Handel’s F minor Suite is not, however, overtly hellish and begins with a prelude in French dotted rhythm which is ‘pathetic’ rather than scary. He ballasts its pathos with a massive fugue on a rising-scale subject in symmetrical rhythm. Often he adds weight by ‘filling in’ the mounting octaves in the left hand, a corruption of linearity that Bach would not have countenanced. The open energy and ‘drive’ of this music mirror eighteenth-century man’s courage in confronting life’s threats; but the allemande and courante temper gravity with grace rather than with power. Handel does not risk an F minor sarabande, whether of the ‘grave’ or the ‘pathetic’ type, but concludes with a contrapuntal gigue in three voices, with canonic imitations to discipline the theme’s spikiness.

from notes by Wilfrid Mellers © 1995

La Suite no8 en fa mineur nous rappelle que, comme dans le cas de mi mineur, un ton associé au paradis parce qu’il était le ton le plus diésé le plus souvent utilisé, le ton de fa mineur, le plus bémolisé et le plus souvent utilisé, était associé à l’enfer. La Suite en fa mineur de Hændel n’est pas, cependant, excessivement infernale, et débute avec un Prélude de rythme français pointé, plus «pathétique» qu’effrayant. Hændel amplifie son pathétisme par une longue Fugue dont le seul sujet simple s’élève en rythme symétrique. Souvent, il accroît la pesanteur en «comblant» les octaves ascendantes de la main gauche, une corruption de la linéarité que Bach n’aurait pas approuvée. L’énergie et le dynamisme de cette musique reflètent le courage de l’homme du XVIIIe siècle à confronter l’adversité; mais l’Allemande et la Courante tempèrent la gravité, en utilisant non pas la force, mais la grâce. Hændel ne prend pas le risque de composer une Sarabande en fa mineur, de type «grave» ou «pathétique», mais termine l’œuvre par une Gigue en contrepoint à trois voix, qui comprend des imitations en canon pour discipliner le thème agité.

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

Die Suite Nr. 8 in f-moll ruft uns in Erinnerung, daß f-moll, die niedrigste allgemein gebrauchte Tonart, als zur Darstellung höllischer Angelegenheiten geeignet angesehen wurde – genauso wie E-Dur, die höchste allgemein gebrauchte Tonart, als himmlisch betrachtet wurde. Händels Suite in f-moll ist jedoch nicht ausdrücklich „höllisch“ und beginnt mit einem eher pathetischen als furchterregenden Präludium in punktierten Rhythmen in französischer Manier. Der Komponist steigert das Pathos mit einer gewaltigen Fuge, deren einfaches Thema eine in symmetrischen Rhythmen behandelte ansteigende Tonskala ist. Oft fügt er Substanz hinzu, indem er die ansteigenden, von der Linken gespielten Oktaven „auffüllt“, ein Verstoß gegen das lineare Prinzip, den Bach nicht geduldet hätte. Die offene Energie und der „Drang“ dieser Musik spiegeln den Mut wider, mit dem der Mensch des achtzehnten Jahrhunderts den Gefahren des Lebens begegnete; aber die Allemande und die Courante mäßigen diese Schwere nicht mittels Kraft, sondern mittels Anmut. Händel riskiert keine Sarabande in f-moll, weder eine des „schweren“ Typus, noch eine des „pathetischen“. Statt dessen schließt er mit einer dreistimmigen kontrapunktischen Gigue, deren kanonische Imitationen das widerspenstige Thema bändigen.

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

Other albums featuring this work

Handel & Haydn: Angela Hewitt plays Handel & Haydn
Studio Master: CDA67736Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Handel: Harpsichord Suites
CDD220452CDs Dyad (2 for the price of 1)
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