Fugue No 3
in B flat major accords with the ‘pastoral’ associations of its key. (Interestingly, Lully had sometimes used B flat major to represent anti-masque demons and hobgoblins, possibly because two flats – the flattest transposition permitted in sixteenth-century modality – were problematical in French tuning and so acquired a taint of the lower regions.) Handel’s B flat fugue is pastorally sunny, with an ‘open’ theme on a falling third and rising fourth, a motif innocently pentatonic. Rhythmic regularity is again unsullied, though stretti enhance the momentum. The modulations are conventional, except for a touch of D minor – the upper mediant, or dominant of the relative minor.
from notes by Wilfrid Mellers © 1995