MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around 2023
Approaching 60,000 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             


Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759)
Clavier Works
Suite No. 3 in d minor (HWV 428) [25:04]
Chaconne in G (HWV 430/Anh) [04:27]
Sonata for a Harpsichord with Double Keys in G (HWV 579) [04:30]
Chaconne in G (HWV 435; 1st version) [12:04]
Prelude in F (HWV 567) [02:43]
Suite No. 2 in f (HWV 427) [09:19]
Capriccio in g minor (HWV 483) [01:41]
Suite No. 7 in g minor (HWV 432) [18:26]
Siegbert Rampe (harpsichord)
rec. 11 August 2008, former Farmhouse of Abbey Marienmünster, Germany. DDD


Experience Classicsonline

Although Handel's harpsichord works are not among his most frequently performed music and most harpsichordists omit them from their standard repertoire they are available in quite a number of recordings. In the main it is the eight large suites of 1720 which receive the attention; the rest of Handel's repertoire for the keyboard is largely neglected. This probably has partly to do with the fact that his keyboard oeuvre is rather cluttered, in which respect it is comparable to his chamber music. The fact that several pieces which name Handel as the composer are of doubtful authenticity does not help. In addition some works exist in several versions. Whoever wants to record Handel's keyboard music while at the same time trying to avoid the well-trodden paths has quite a lot of work to do. And that is exactly what the German keyboard player and musicologist Siegbert Rampe has done.

This disc is remarkable in more than one respect. First, we get several well-known pieces in early versions. The Chaconne in G (HWV 430) is recorded here for the first time. One will immediately recognize the 'Air with variations' from the Suite No. 5 in E from the set of 1720, nicknamed 'The Harmonious Blacksmith'. This name was given in the 19th century, and the story associated with it is apocryphal as the early version proves which Handel wrote during his time in Hamburg. Also recorded for the first time is the original version of the Chaconne in G (HWV 435). Rampe believes this piece could have its origin in a work for keyboard and orchestra, as in its only source tutti and solo are clearly distinguished. 

In addition Rampe plays some rather curious pieces which don't exactly belong to the core of Handel's keyboard music. Among them is the Sonata in G (HWV 579) which has the form of an aria with solo episodes and ritornellos. The Sonata for a Harpsichord with Double Keys in G (HWV 579) is specifically written for a two-manual harpsichord. Like most pieces on this disc it was written in Hamburg. The Prelude in F (HWV 567) is merely a chordal framework which has to be worked out by the interpreter. The Capriccio in g minor (HWV 483) is preserved without a title and is characterised by Rampe as a "two-part invention". 

The two latter pieces belong to the three compositions which were written in England. The third is the Suite No. 3 in d minor (HWV 428). It is part of the eight Suites printed in London in 1720. According to Rampe the other two suites recorded here are of an earlier date: the Suite No. 2 could have been written in Hamburg, the Suite No. 7 in Hamburg and in Italy. 

For the repertoire alone this is a most interesting disc. But the performance is also unusual in several ways. First the tuning of the harpsichord: Rampe states that mean-tone temperament was generally used in Hamburg until the middle of the 18th century. And that is how the harpsichord in this recording is tuned. The pitch is lower than usual: a=408 Hz. 

But it is the harpsichord itself which is probably the most intriguing aspect of this project. It is an instrument with four stops, divided over two manuals. Most noticeable is the presence of a 16' stop. When in the 20th century attempts were made to play the 18th-century harpsichord repertoire on the instrument for which it was written, by the likes of Wanda Landowska, new instruments were used which had several stops, including a 16', operated by pedals. These had very little to do with the original instruments of the baroque era. After World War II several builders aimed at building harpsichords which were inspired by the originals without being copies. Among them were Neupert and Wittmayr, who built harpsichords which were constructed differently from the instruments Landowska used. But they still contained a 16' stop, a practice which was justified by referring to the so-called 'Bach harpsichord' in a museum in Berlin. The connection to Bach has never been proven, though, and representatives of the historical performance practice dismissed the inclusion of a 16' as unhistorical. But more recent research has shown that several 18th-century harpsichords had indeed a 16' stop. This has resulted in copies of such instruments being built and some recordings of German keyboard music on such instruments, in particular by Andreas Staier. Here Siegbert Rampe follows his example and uses the 16' stop regularly in his performances of Handel's keyboard works. 

He plays Handel's music with great technical assurance and is musically persuasive. His interpretation is differentiated in that he doesn't use the 16' stop all the time. But when he does use it the sound is pretty heavy, and some time is needed to get used to it. I also felt sometimes that the use of the 16' stop made the playing of the fast passages a bit awkward and less flexible than when only 8' stops are used. On the other hand the full and almost orchestral sound is quite impressive and lends something monumental to these keyboard works. 

This disc can be commended to anyone who is interested in the keyboard music of the 18th century and its interpretation. I don't dare to say that this is the way how this music should be played. There are some questions to be answered, like the acceptance and diffusion of this kind of harpsichord in the 18th century. But, in addition to the captivating repertoire and performance, I rate this disc very highly as an eloquent contribution to the debate on how to perform baroque keyboard music.

Johan van Veen


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing




Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Past and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Return to Review Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.