Monday, May 3, 2010

Handel on eMusic: Keyboard


Harpsichord works, volume 1: Second set of suites (1733), nos.1-6, HWV434-439. Sophie Yates [Chandos] 20.

Harpsichord works, volume 2: Suites nos.1-5, HWV426-430. Sophie Yates [Chandos] 23.

Harpsichord works, volume 3: Suites nos.6-8, HWV431-433; Second set, nos.7-9, HWV440-442. Sophie Yates [Chandos] 27.

Released 1999-2002. gave the three volumes 7, 9, and 9, respectively: "Volume 1 is less successful than the others, as if Sophie Yates had not entirely got into her stride... Volumes 2 and 3, whose core is the more mature 1720 set, are much finer, and offer some magnificent performances, particularly in the more dashing pieces". Gramophone called volume 1 "A very impressive start" with "plenty of vitality and a keen feeling for the shaping of Handel’s lines". Of volume 3, it said "These are the most appealing versions I have heard for a long time of Handel’s suites: fresh‚ alive‚ with a real command of style and technique but also just a hint of risk about the playing". (I couldn't find a review of volume 2). BBC Music gave the respective volumes 4-5, 4-4, and 5-5: "For the most part, however, she plays this music with insight and conviction" (1); "offers graceful, rhythmic and articulate performances" (2); "a rewarding listening experience without a dull moment" (3). I couldn't find Fanfare's review of volume 1 online, but the volume 2 review said "In 24:2, comparing her Volume 1 with other recordings of Handel's harpsichord works, I observed, "(her series) may well turn out to be the version of the composer's keyboard music we have been waiting for." I am happy to report that this second installment... goes far toward fulfilling that hope"; volume 3 was "another triumph". Penguin Guide gave the 3 volumes *** - "vivacious and intelligent performances, very well recorded".

Harpsichord suites nos.1-5, HWV426-430. Ottavio Dantone [Arts] 23.

Harpsichord suites nos.6-8 HWV431-433, plus 8 other works. Ottavio Dantone [Arts] 23.

Released 2004. These get a rave review from Classical Net: "If you love Handel's keyboard music, you have to own the Dantone recordings". In comparison to Sophie Yates on Chandos: "Dantone is no slouch when exuberance is called for, but he can't reach the high spirits coming from Yates... Dantone gives us a Handel who is satisfied with life and fully understands its most important rewards. This is a joy that is lasting, not of the moment as represented in the performances of Sophie Yates." The reviewer also compares Dantone with Cuckston on Naxos: "Dantone is significantly more rewarding... [and] is also given much better sonics." Gramophone says Dantone's is "full-blooded Handel" that "will not disappoint anybody, but [Paul] Nicholson [on Hyperion] and Yates remain indispensable". Meanwhile, MusicWeb says "I feel that the present recording by Ottavio Dantone compares favourably with the Hyperion release – at least for the Suites. It should become a if not the definitive edition". From Classics Today, volume 1 gets 7/9, while volume 2 gets 8/9.

Harpsichord suites nos.1-5, HWV426-430. Alan Cuckston [Naxos] 24.

Harpsichord suites nos.6-8, HWV431-433, plus other works. Alan Cuckston [Naxos] 24.

Reviewing the second volume, MusicWeb gave it 5 stars and said "I am indebted to Alan Cuckston for playing this repertoire in a 'straight' way. Too many players are so bogged down by fruitless attempts to produce 'authentic performances' that they miss the spirit of the music... A thoroughly enjoyable disc beautifully played and well-recorded".

Harpsichord suites nos.1-8, HWV426-433. Laura Alvini [Nuova Era] 38.

No reviews found.

Harspichord suites nos.3, 11, 13. Paul Wolfe [Lyrichord] 14.

This was actually a 2-disc set but only one disc is on emusic; the harpsichord was specially built for Wolfe and is dubbed the "Queen Mary" - apparently it's 9 feet long. Penguin Guide gave it *** - "The range of colour is aurally fascinating... The playing itself is infectiously full of life".

"Harpsichord variations". Byron Schenkman [Centaur] 24.

Fanfare said "Schenkman offers lively and often penetrating performances. His way with the music tends toward the muscular end of the interpretative spectrum". The reviewer also notes that Sophie Yates on Chandos "plays with an agreeable blend of vigor and delicacy".

Piano suites: Nos.1, 2, 4 & 8; Second set, no.7; Suites HWV447, HWV452. Keith Jarrett [ECM New Series] 29.

Gramophone didn't quite accept the premises: "My own feeling is that Jarrett has deprived us of what might well have been stylish, captivating and rhythmically buoyant performances of these Suites had he chosen a harpsichord. He didn't and, in spite of what is undoubtedly accomplished playing, with clear articulation and a characteristically infectious feeling for dance-orientated movements, the result strikes my ears as unconvincing".

Piano suites no.5, 6 & 8; Second set, no.3; other pieces. Anne Queffelec [Mirare] 23.

This got 3-3 from BBC Music: "The benefits of the piano’s dynamic range are certainly to be felt in the broader pieces... Less effective on the piano are the pieces where the textures are more evanescent".

"Vo fa guerra - Suits of the most celebrated lessons... by Mr William Babell". Astronio (harpsichord) [Stradivarius] 17.

These keyboard works by Babell are derived from Handel's works. No reviews found.

"Rome 1709: Handel vs Scarlatti". Luca Guglielmi (organ, harpsichord) [Stradivarius] 27.

As well as music by Domenico Scarlatti, this includes 12 keyboard works by Handel. gave this 7 out of 10: "Any Handel lovers that might wish to have been a fly on the wall at either of the events that inspired this disc ought to be at least moderately enchanted by Guglielmi’s recital. His may be an unfamiliar name to most, yet his performances are consistent and assured".

Organ works, volume 1 - including Solo concerto in F, Musical clock pieces, and 6 Fugues. Leo van Doeselaar [Etcetera] 20.

Organ works, volume 2 - Organ concertos nos.15-18 (solo versions). Leo van Doeselaar [Etcetera] 21.

No reviews found.

Organ concertos, op.4 nos.2, 4 & 5; op.7 no.4; no.13 (solo versions). Bruno Morin [Triton] 20.

No reviews found.

Organ music, including works by other composers. Antoine Sibertin-Blanc [FSB Productions Musicales] 15.

The track naming isn't good on this. As far as I can tell, the first 4 tracks are the "10 Tunes for Clay's Musical Clock", HWV587-97 (yes, that makes 11 tunes!). Not sure how exactly they've organised it; track 3 says "Air 6 Ariadne" which I presume means no.6 plus no.7, which is an arrangement of a piece from Arianna (ie, Ariadne!). Which would make track 4 nos.8, 9, and 10 (and 11?). The "Concerto no.1" is a solo version of op.4 no.1. I have no idea what the Suite is, as it doesn't appear in Grove or on No reviews were found.

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