Notes and Editorial Reviews
"The two books of harpsichord suites published during Handel’s lifetime, in 1720 and 1733, appeared in London, from the pen of a German composer, with a French heading: Suites de pieces pour le clavecin. They are some of the composer’s most polyglot works, though if one inspiration informs them more than any other it’s that of Jean-Phillippe Rameau.
After an impressive cycle of the sonatas of Antonio Soler on Naxos, harpsichordist Gilbert Rowland offers a double-disc set of suites drawn from both books, as well as two from the Miscellaneous Suites which probably date from before the composer’s London years. Rowland’s Soler was robust and unapologetically virtuoso. His Handel is similarly scaled and brightly rendered,
though stately and sometimes rhythmically inflexible. His tempi tend to be slow, as in the Allemande of the G major Suite from 1733. He compensates for the rather deliberate unfolding of the music by loading it, at times, with quite florid ornamentation. The effect is more Rococo than improvisatory.
The instrument is not listed in the booklet, but it has a lovely upper manual, with a sweet, nasal twang. The recording captures the sonic richness of this manual far more charismatically than the larger sounds Rowland’s harpsichord is capable of producing. If Rowland's repeat sections are filled with the characteristically crackling ornaments, they are also more likely than not played on this upper manual and the effect is appealingly more intimate."
-- Phillip Kennicott, Gramophone
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