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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDD22045
Recording details: May 1994
All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Martin Compton
Engineered by Antony Howell
Release date: February 1995
Total duration: 3 minutes 33 seconds

'Superbly recorded. Highly recommended and unlikely to be surpassed in the near future' (The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs)

'The commanding nature of these performances, captured in sound of tremendous presence, cannot be denied. Nicholson captures a Handelian dignity and grandeur often forgotten, in the frenzy that informs many interpretations aspiring to authenticity… Magisterial performances of majestic music' (Classic CD)

Fugue or Voluntary No 5 in A minor, HWV609
1716/7; published 1735

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Fugue No 5 in A minor proves to be perilous, and also magnificent. The key was traditionally prone to melancholia, a quality preserved in Mozart’s wondrous A minor Rondo. This fugue is still in common time, but Handel, for the first time in the cycle, gives it a tempo directive (Largo), which may indicate that its outlandish subject – with falling major seventh, falling diminished seventh, and declining chromatics – should be accorded physical weight and moral gravitas; only thus will we survive the desperate chromatics which threaten to engulf us. If A major is a key of youth and jollity, this A minor is indeed its opposite, a key through which Handel precariously navigates by way of an imperturbable pulse and a defined tonal frame into which the chromatics (just) fit. This fugue subject bears a significant resemblance to that of the ‘And with his stripes’ fugue from Messiah. Handel is unlikely to be equating himself, or even mankind as a whole, with Christ, but is rather making a comment on the slings and arrows of a fortune unarguably outrageous.

from notes by Wilfrid Mellers © 1995

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