418

Philip Edward Fisher: Handel: Keyboard Suites 1

C. Michael Bailey By

Sign in to view read count
Johann Sebastian Bach and Domenico Scarlatti (not to mention Francois Couperin and Dieterich Buxtehude) were not the only figures of the High Baroque to compose memorable keyboard music. George Frideric Handel composed two sets of eight keyboard suites each, published in 1720 and 1733, respectively, that remain highly regarded. These suites are comparable to those of Bach (English Suites (BWV 806-811), French Suites, BWV 812-817, Partitas, BWV 825-830) in structure, both men composing in the Baroque suite du danses form comprised of some or all of the parts: Prelude, Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, and/or Gigue.

Handel's prowess as a keyboard player is documented in his 1708 keyboard duel with Scarlatti, where Handel bested Scarlatti at the organ, while Scarlatti prevailed at the harpsichord. The two men, along with Bach, were born within eight months of one another, making them a rather rarefied trio of composers, all accomplished at the keyboard. Where Bach and Scarlatti's keyboard works fairly dominate the recording market, Handel's suites were overshadowed by his operas and oratorios, not the least of which is his famous Messiah.

Pianist Philip Edward Fisher adds his first volume of Handel's 1720 set of suites to a market already sporting sets by Murray Perahia, Sviatoslav Richter and Andrei Gavrilov and Ragna Schirmer. Like these other artists, Fisher performs the Suites on the modern piano. As with Bach and Scarlatti, Handel's keyboard compositions were written for the harpsichord, were contemporary with the development of the fortepiano, and predated the modern hammerklavier by many years. the modern piano provides these older compositions a fantastic array of tonal techniques not available when the pieces were written.

Fisher's Handel starts out almost romantically in the "Suite No. 1 Prelude," where the pianist indulges legato flourishes before he shifts into a classically informed performance of the remainder of the suite. The minor key suites, "No.3 in D minor" and "No. 4 in E minor," like Scarlatti's minor key sonatas, project a solemn grandeur not readily heard in the major key compositions. Fisher has a firm grip on revealing all of the pathos present in these pieces. While his D minor fugue is brisk, it never strays far from the contemplative. An even approach characterizes Fisher's treatment of these Handel compositions, one we can hope will extrapolate to his ostensible Volume 2.


Track Listing: Suite No. 1 in A Major, HMV 426; Suite No. 2 in F Major, HMV 427; Suite No. 3 in D minor, HMV 428; Suite No. 4 in E minor, HMV 429.

Personnel: Philip Edward Fisher: piano.

Title: Handel: Keyboard Suites 1 | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Naxos


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read ON Tour CD/LP/Track Review ON Tour
by John Kelman
Published: October 22, 2017
Read On a Distant Shore CD/LP/Track Review On a Distant Shore
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets CD/LP/Track Review Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read Signal 9 CD/LP/Track Review Signal 9
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 22, 2017
Read For the Love of You CD/LP/Track Review For the Love of You
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Recent Developments CD/LP/Track Review Recent Developments
by John Sharpe
Published: October 21, 2017
Read "Trickster" CD/LP/Track Review Trickster
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: May 11, 2017
Read "Brain//Child" CD/LP/Track Review Brain//Child
by Geno Thackara
Published: December 24, 2016
Read "Skylines" CD/LP/Track Review Skylines
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: November 13, 2016
Read "Karoujite" CD/LP/Track Review Karoujite
by John Eyles
Published: June 21, 2017
Read "Happy Song" CD/LP/Track Review Happy Song
by Geno Thackara
Published: October 5, 2017
Read "Mu" CD/LP/Track Review Mu
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 30, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.