Suite No 2
in F major is closer to an Italian slow–quick–slow–quick sonata than to a French suite proper. F major was traditionally a pastoral, ‘down-to-earth’ key, but Handel’s first movement, far from being a quasi-improvised keyboard exercise, is a civilized and highly ornamented quasi-operatic aria, while the bustling allegro which follows is a vigorously Italianate two-part invention, more urban than rustic in harmonic solidity and neatness of texture. The next movement, in the relative, D minor, has the pulse of a sarabande, but it is also an operatic aria in miniature, ending with a written-out, quasi-vocal cadenza. This leads back to the tonic F major and into a powerful fugue, initially in three parts but introducing a fourth after chromatic intensification.
from notes by Wilfrid Mellers © 1995