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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: 12 minutes 3 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 8 in F minor, HWV433
composer
published in London in 1720 as part of a set of Suites de pièces pour le clavecin

Prelude  [2'19]
Allegro: Fugue  [2'27]
Allemande  [2'51]
Courante  [1'50]
Gigue  [2'36]

Other recordings available for download
Paul Nicholson (harpsichord/virginals)
Angela Hewitt (piano)
Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
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


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'Handel & Haydn: Angela Hewitt plays Handel & Haydn' (CDA67736)
Handel & Haydn: Angela Hewitt plays Handel & Haydn
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'Handel: Harpsichord Suites' (CDD22045)
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