MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around   2022
 57,903 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
advertisements

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

TROUBADISC
Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews


FOGHORN Classics

Alexandra-Quartet
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
Webmaster
   David Barker
Postmaster
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers


Advertising on
Musicweb


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 cpo reviews

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


All APR reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews

 

Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

 

Support us financially by purchasing this from
George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759)
The Eight Great Suites
Suite No. 1 in A major HWV426 [11:55]
Suite No. 2 in F major HWV427 [8:29]
Suite No. 3 in D minor HWV428 [22:07]
Suite No. 4 in E minor HWV429 [14:49]
Suite No. 5 in E major HWV430 [11:57]
Suite No. 6 in F sharp minor HWV431 [9:55]
Suite No. 7 in G minor HWV432 [21:16]
Suite No. 8 in F minor HWV433 [12:04]
Suite in E minor HWV438 [7:53]
Chaconne in G major HWV435 [11:53]
Danny Driver (piano)
rec.29-31 January, 22-24 April 2013, Potton Hall, Dunwich, Suffolk. DDD
HYPERION CDA68041/2 [69:19 + 72:25]

I make no apology for first quoting wholesale the blurb appended to the details of this release on the Hyperion website, as it succinctly summarises its attractions:
 
“The ‘Great Suites’ are an inspired, idiosyncratic amalgam of Gallic courtly dances, Italian vocal lyricism, Teutonic counterpoint and robust English tunefulness. Whereas Bach’s keyboard suites follow broadly similar patterns, centred on the traditional French dance sequence of Allemande, Courante, Sarabande and Gigue, Handel’s are unpredictable, with no two suites alike in the number and ordering of their movements. There are fugues, arias with variations, Italian-style sonata movements, even (in No 7) a Passacaglia. Compared with the elaborate finish of Bach’s suites, Handel’s often give the impression of written-down improvisations. In the fantasia-like Preludes, especially, Handel hints at his own genius as extemporiser, while leaving plenty to the performer’s own imagination.”
 
Danny Driver plays a modern Steinway; obviously the ability to create a legato and gradations of dynamics via judicious pedalling and variety of touch must be balanced against the loss of the percussive tension a big harpsichord can generate in the more grandiose movements, but what wonderfully fluid, nimble, transparent playing this is. Rather than utilise the dynamic possibilities of the modern piano, Driver prefers to substitutes clarity for sonorousness and as a result there is no sense of stylistic incongruity in these performances.
 
The arpeggiated roulades with which Prelude to the A major suite opens are delivered in a free, rhapsodic manner without sacrificing rhythmic unity too much. This, in combination with Driver’s stylistic approach has the effect of stressing Handel’s kinship with Bach in a manner which I have rarely apprehended previously. One notices the delicacy of his left hand and he subtle manner in which he adds little ornaments reminiscent of vocal embellishments Handel would have expected to hear in his operas.
 
It is the variety of forms and the freedom with which Handel combines them which lend such vitality and appeal to these lovely works. There are several occasions on which the listener encounters something vaguely familiar, and of course Handel often incorporated the same music into different works; an example is the Presto finale to Suite No.3, which appears in various guises throughout Handel’s oeuvre.
 
Another piece that will be familiar to many is the charming Air with variations concluding Suite No.5, known to generations of amateur pianists as “The Harmonious Blacksmith”. Yet it is by no means the only high point in this Suite: the preceding Allemande is of surpassing beauty and elegance, played here with a stately yet rapt fluidity which is wholly engaging.
 
The “Chaconne in G major” makes a wonderfully rousing bonus and a florid climax to this superb recital, affording the opportunity for Driver to display his capacity to encompass both bravura and tenderness.
 
Ralph Moore