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Handel: Suites For Harpsichord, Vol 2 / Gilbert Rowland

Handel / Rowland,Gilbert
Release Date: 04/30/2013 
Label:  Divine Art   Catalog #: 21220   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Gilbert Rowland
Number of Discs: 2 
Length: 1 Hours 14 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



HANDEL Suites for Harpsichord: HWV 427, 432-436, 444,450 Gilbert Rowland (hpd) DIVINE ART 21220 (2 CDs: 134:20)


When one thinks of Handel nowadays, what generally comes to mind are, first and foremost, the operas and oratorios, most of which have been or are in the process of being revived. Then there are the iconic works, such as the Fireworks and Water Music suites, as Read more well as the inevitable large-scale sacred works, such as the Te Deums and various anthems. Even though the chamber works are somewhat less in the public ear, there is no lack of recordings of the harpsichord suites, as the reviews by many colleagues over the past several years have demonstrated. Here, harpsichordist Gilbert Rowland has continued his recording of the entire corpus of 25 suites begun with the first volume released back in 2011. This sequel brings a further nine to the disc, as well as the anomalous Chaconne in G Minor (HWV 435) published by John Walsh in 1733, but written a decade and a half earlier.


My colleague Christopher Brodersen reviewed the first volume in 2012 (35:3), noting that, while it contained some excellent interpretations, he could not give his unqualified endorsement due to the disc because of the sound. In this disc, some of the questions he raised have been resolved. The instrument is a two-manual French harpsichord based upon a 1750 Goermans Parisian model. The sound is robust and powerful, and Rowland uses every inch of the keyboards, generally with a bright and decisive attack. Having heard the Borgstede Brilliant Classics recording from 2008, I find this interpretation much more masculine and edgy. The clear, almost nasal tone of the instrument does not bother me at all, and places it well among the company of equally talented interpreters. The articulation and ornamentation in particular are precise and clear. My only quibble is that I find there to be a certain sameness in the tempos and I’m not always convinced by the phrasing. Of course, over two hours’ worth of harpsichord solo takes a gargantuan attention span, especially since one must pay continual attention to the various subtle nuances. Thus, unless one is absolutely focused upon the instrument and Rowland’s performance, it is perhaps not a set of discs to do at one go. Even the rather more free-form movements of the Suite in F Major (HWV 427) are not entirely free from the more rigid structures, so one ought to be careful of the dosage. Still, I found much to admire in the robust performance and sometimes sensitive interpretations, such as in the Passacaille of the Suite in G Minor (HWV 432) in which Rowlands nicely builds the tension until a rousing conclusion, or in the Sarabande movement of the Suite in D Minor (HWV 437) with its mysterious variations that unfold in a stately and dignified manner. In short, this is a worthy sequel and while the decisive performance style of Rowland may not entirely appeal to everyone’s taste, it certainly provides an alternative to any effete renditions and is worth a listen.


FANFARE: Bertil van Boer
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Works on This Recording

1.
Suite for Harpsichord in G minor, HWV 432 by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Gilbert Rowland (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1720; London, England 
2.
Suite for Harpsichord in G major, HWV 450 by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Gilbert Rowland (Harpsichord)
3.
Suite for Harpsichord in F sharp minor, HWV 431 by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Gilbert Rowland (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1720; London, England 
4.
Suite for Harpsichord in F minor, HWV 433 by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Gilbert Rowland (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1720; London, England 
5.
Suite for Harpsichord in F major, HWV 427 by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Gilbert Rowland (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1720; London, England 
6.
Suite for Harpsichord in D minor, HWV 437 by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Gilbert Rowland (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1733; London, England 
7.
Suite for Harpsichord in D minor, HWV 436 by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Gilbert Rowland (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1733; London, England 
8.
Suite for Harpsichord in B flat major, HWV 434 by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Gilbert Rowland (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1733; London, England 
9.
Chaconne and Variations (21) for Harpsichord in G major, HWV 435 by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Gilbert Rowland (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1733; London, England 
10.
Suite for Harpsichord in C minor, HWV 444 by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Gilbert Rowland (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1705 

Sound Samples

Keyboard Suite No. 7 (Set I) in G minor, HWV 432: I. Overture: Largo - Presto - Lentement
Keyboard Suite No. 7 (Set I) in G minor, HWV 432: II. Andante
Keyboard Suite No. 7 (Set I) in G minor, HWV 432: III. Allegro
Keyboard Suite No. 7 (Set I) in G minor, HWV 432: IV. Sarabande
Keyboard Suite No. 7 (Set I) in G minor, HWV 432: V. Gigue
Keyboard Suite No. 7 (Set I) in G minor, HWV 432: VI. Passacaille
Keyboard Suite No. 4 (Set II) in D minor, HWV 437: I. Prelude
Keyboard Suite No. 4 (Set II) in D minor, HWV 437: II. Allemande
Keyboard Suite No. 4 (Set II) in D minor, HWV 437: III. Courante
Keyboard Suite No. 4 (Set II) in D minor, HWV 437: IV. Sarabande con variazioni
Keyboard Suite No. 4 (Set II) in D minor, HWV 437: V. Gigue I
Keyboard Suite No. 4 (Set II) in D minor, HWV 437: VI. Sonatina (Gigue II)
Keyboard Suite No. 2 (Set I) in F major, HWV 427: I. Adagio
Keyboard Suite No. 2 (Set I) in F major, HWV 427: II. Allegro
Keyboard Suite No. 2 (Set I) in F major, HWV 427: III. Adagio
Keyboard Suite No. 2 (Set I) in F major, HWV 427: IV. Allegro
Keyboard Suite No. 6 (Set I) in F sharp minor, HWV 431: I. Prelude
Keyboard Suite No. 6 (Set I) in F sharp minor, HWV 431: II. Largo
Keyboard Suite No. 6 (Set I) in F sharp minor, HWV 431: III. Allegro
Keyboard Suite No. 6 (Set I) in F sharp minor, HWV 431: IV. Gigue
Keyboard Suite No. 1 in B flat major, HWV 434: I. Prelude
Keyboard Suite No. 1 in B flat major, HWV 434: II. Sonata
Keyboard Suite No. 1 in B flat major, HWV 434: III. Aria con variazioni
Harpsichord Suite in G major, HWV 450: I. Preludio
Harpsichord Suite in G major, HWV 450: II. Allemande
Harpsichord Suite in G major, HWV 450: III. Courante
Harpsichord Suite in G major, HWV 450: IV. Sarabande
Harpsichord Suite in G major, HWV 450: V. Gigue
Harpsichord Suite in G major, HWV 450: VI. Menuet
Suite in C minor, HWV 444: I. Prelude
Suite in C minor, HWV 444: II. Allemande
Suite in C minor, HWV 444: III. Courante
Suite in C minor, HWV 444: IV. Gavotte
Suite in C minor, HWV 444: V. Menuet
Keyboard Suite No. 8 (Set I) in F minor, HWV 433: I. Prelude: Adagio
Keyboard Suite No. 8 (Set I) in F minor, HWV 433: II. Allegro
Keyboard Suite No. 8 (Set I) in F minor, HWV 433: III. Allemande
Keyboard Suite No. 8 (Set I) in F minor, HWV 433: IV. Courante
Keyboard Suite No. 8 (Set I) in F minor, HWV 433: V. Gigue
Keyboard Suite No. 3 (Set II) in D minor, HWV 436: I. Allemande
Keyboard Suite No. 3 (Set II) in D minor, HWV 436: II. Allegro
Keyboard Suite No. 3 (Set II) in D minor, HWV 436: III. Air: Lentement
Keyboard Suite No. 3 (Set II) in D minor, HWV 436: IV. Gigue: Presto
Keyboard Suite No. 3 (Set II) in D minor, HWV 436: V. Menuetto - Variations 1-3
Chaconne in G major, HWV 435

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