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Handel: Harpsichord Suites Nos. 6-8 Alan Cuckston


Release Date: 02/15/1994 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8550416   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Alan Cuckston
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

The harpsichord used in this collection is a modern instrument designed by the American David Way and it incorporates features of many French 18th century harpsichords.

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. Their playing is therefore inhibited and has three main annoying quirks at least. Firstly, they make far too much of ornamentation so that the essential mordents, trills and shakes are given such a dramatic exaggeration that they stand out like angry spots upon a blemished face. Mr Cuckston's ornamentation is beautifully incorporated into the natural
Read more flair of the music. Secondly, some players are afraid of lively speeds for the quicker movements ... I suspect it is because they do not have the requisite finger technique ... and so the music does not come to life. But, in these performances, it does. Thirdly, some players indulge in grinding rallentandos and, to make matters worse, hang on to cadences for an inordinate length of time so that if a cadence is crotchet, crotchet rest and crotchet at say allegro, which should take just over one second, it can take more than five times as long and has the nauseating aural effect like unto some servile servant apologising to his master, and most profusely, while backing out of his presence.

Mr Cuckston does observe some rallentandos but there is not this excess, this ghastly self-indulgence and musical fetishes!

But here Handel comes alive and surely all music should be both vibrant and alive. Players can kill music for reasons I have already mentioned and no corpse is ever pleasant and it certainly cannot communicate.

The energy and reliability of these performances are exemplary. The F sharp Suite is beset with all sorts of problems but they are not revealed here. The F minor Suite has splendid fugue and, as I have said before, couldn't Handel write a good fugue untrammelled by academia which sometimes the fugues of the great J.S. Bach may be.

The shorter pieces are a delight particularly the Capriccio and more so when it is played with such panache as this. The Air and Variations were the subject of Brahms's great Variations on a Theme of Handel (do investigate the brilliant recording by Peter Katin on Athene (ATH CD 9)).

A thoroughly enjoyable disc beautifully played and well-recorded. And all players of Handel should note. Play Handel like this and you and your audiences will reap deserved awards.

-- David Wright, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1. Suite for Harpsichord in F sharp minor, HWV 431 by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Alan Cuckston (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1720; London, England 
Date of Recording: 4/1990 
Venue:  Harrogate College Chapel, N. Yorkshire 
2. Suite for Harpsichord in G minor, HWV 432 by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Alan Cuckston (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1720; London, England 
Date of Recording: 4/1990 
Venue:  Harrogate College Chapel, N. Yorkshire 
3. Suite for Harpsichord in F minor, HWV 433 by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Alan Cuckston (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1720; London, England 
Date of Recording: 4/1990 
Venue:  Harrogate College Chapel, N. Yorkshire 
4. Suite for Harpsichord in D minor, HWV 437 by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Alan Cuckston (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1733; London, England 
Date of Recording: 4/1990 
Venue:  Harrogate College Chapel, N. Yorkshire 
5. Suite for Harpsichord in B flat major, HWV 434: no 3, Aria con variazioni by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Alan Cuckston (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1733; London, England 
Date of Recording: 4/1990 
Venue:  Harrogate College Chapel, N. Yorkshire 
6. Sonatina for Harpsichord in D minor by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Alan Cuckston (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: London, England 
Date of Recording: 4/1990 
Venue:  Harrogate College Chapel, N. Yorkshire 
7. Toccata for Harpsichord in G minor by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Alan Cuckston (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: London, England 
Date of Recording: 4/1990 
Venue:  Harrogate College Chapel, N. Yorkshire 
8. Sonata for Harpsichord in G minor by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Alan Cuckston (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: London, England 
Date of Recording: 4/1990 
Venue:  Harrogate College Chapel, N. Yorkshire 
9. Capriccio for Harpsichord in F major, HWV 481 by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Alan Cuckston (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1733 
Venue:  Harrogate College Chapel, N. Yorkshire 

Sound Samples

Keyboard Suite No. 6 in F sharp minor, HWV 431: I. Prelude
Keyboard Suite No. 6 in F sharp minor, HWV 431: II. Largo
Keyboard Suite No. 6 in F sharp minor, HWV 431: III. Fugue
Keyboard Suite No. 6 in F sharp minor, HWV 431: III. Gigue
Keyboard Suite No. 7 in G minor, HWV 432: I. Overture: Largo
Keyboard Suite No. 7 in G minor, HWV 432: II. Andante
Keyboard Suite No. 7 in G minor, HWV 432: III. Allegro
Keyboard Suite No. 7 in G minor, HWV 432: IV. Sarabande
Keyboard Suite No. 7 in G minor, HWV 432: V. Gigue
Keyboard Suite No. 7 in G minor, HWV 432: VI. Passacaille
Keyboard Suite No. 8 in F minor, HWV 433: I. Prelude
Keyboard Suite No. 8 in F minor, HWV 433: II. Fugue
Keyboard Suite No. 8 in F minor, HWV 433: III. Allemande
Keyboard Suite No. 8 in F minor, HWV 433: IV. Courante
Keyboard Suite No. 8 in F minor, HWV 433: V. Gigue
Capriccio in F major, HWV 481
Keyboard Suite No. 4 in D minor, HWV 437: I. Allemande
Keyboard Suite No. 4 in D minor, HWV 437: II. Courante
Keyboard Suite No. 4 in D minor, HWV 437: III. Sarabande
Keyboard Suite No. 4 in D minor, HWV 437: IV. Gigue
Sonatina in D minor
Keyboard Sonata in G minor, HWV 580: Sonata in G minor, HWV 580
Toccata in G minor, HWV 586
Keyboard Suite No. 5 in E major, HWV 430: Air with Variations, "Harmonious Blacksmith"

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Great Performance May 27, 2013 By Guering F. (West Orange, NJ) See All My Reviews "Very well executed classical music." Report Abuse
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