BMC 23
GEORGE FRIDERIC HANDEL
(1685-1759)

HARPSICHORD SUITES

CHRISTOPHER WOOD Dolmetsch Harpsichord

HARPSICHORD SUITES 1-4, and 6-8
HWV 426-9, 431-3 (pub.1720)

1. Suite 1 in A Major HWV 426
   Prelude / Allemande / Courante / Gigue
2. Suite 2 in F Major HWV 427
   Allegro / Adagio / Allegro-Adagio / Fuga (allegro)
3. Suite 3 in d-minor HWV 428
   Prelude (presto) / Fuga (allegro) / Allemande / Courante / Air et Doubles / Presto
4. Suite 4 in e minor HWV 429
   Fuga (allegro) / Allemande / Courante / Sarabande / Gigue
5. Suite 6 in f-sharp minor HWV 431
   Prelude / Largo / Fuga (allegro) / Gigue (presto)
6. Suite 7 in g minor HWV 432
   Ouverture (Adagio) / Andante / Allegro / Sarabande / Gigue / Passacaille
7. Suite 8 in f minor HWV 433
   Prelude (adagio) / Fuga (allegro) / Allemande / Courante / Gigue

Total time 79:04

In 1714, George Louis, Elector of Hanover became King George I of England, initiating the Royal House of Hanover, and Handel, who was already in the employ of the Hanover Court, went to England with him where he was to produce a number of compositions in connection with royal occasions and ceremonies.

He was also acting as music-master to the King's daughters in 1720 when he published his first set of suites "pour le clavecin" and it may reasonably be supposed that these pieces would have formed a part of the Princesses' repertoire. Though the publication date was 1720, sketches for some of the movements were made as far back as 1705. In a preface Handel stated that he had published them "because Surreptitious and incorrect copies of them had got abroad." A second book was published without the composer's permission by John Walsh in 1733.

The seven Suites recorded here are all from the first book. In the virtuoso class as a performer on the harpsichord and organ, Handel improvised to a great extent, and he no doubt embellished his own performances with all sorts of ornamentation, which would have filled out the harmonies.

Christopher Wood plays strongly, with plenty of appropriate ornamentation. The fine, full-bodied Dolmetsch harpsichord is recorded close, enhancing the inherent strength of the performance.

Some of the movements of these suites will be recognizable, as they were transcribed by the composer and appear in other works. The movement marked 'Presto' in Suite No. 3 came from a "Lesson in D minor"; Handel also used it as part of the Overture to the opera Il pastor fido and as the finale both of the Concerto Grosso, op. 3/6 and the Organ Concerto in d-minor, op. 7/4.

The Fugue from Suite No. 6 appears, in a slightly modified form, in the Concerto Grosso, op. 3/5, while the Overture of Suite No. 7 also serves as the overture to the opera Orestes.

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