Fugue No 1
in G minor is basic in that its subject opens with a falling fifth, aspires upwards through a minor sixth, and then gathers physical energy in repeated quavers. Although all the fugues are ultimately in four parts, they tend to make do with three until their final stages, thus using the fourth part with rationally consummatory effect. In this first fugue the steady pulse assures sobriety, and the delayed entry of the fourth voice drives towards a cadential harmonic expansion, marked ‘Adagio’. Perhaps this suggests that human endurance may give legitimate occasion for pride. Handel’s counterpoint is usually worldly, if not mundane, with the harmonies ‘fitting in’ as though to some (humanly) pre-ordained scheme.
from notes by Wilfrid Mellers © 1995