Handel Works for Keyboard
For this recording, I wanted to share the joy of exploring the different faces of Handel, covering a period from approximately 1700-1740, without paying particular attention to chronology. I also wanted to bring in other composers who had a determining role in the development of Handel’s style, such as Zachow, Krieger and Mattheson. Babell, a great admirer and propagator of Handel’s music in London, also merits a place alongside them.
I like recitals like these; I also like complete works type of albums, too. Having already purchased the Egarr set of the “Eight Great Sonatas” by Handel, I was excited to make comparisons as the second great suite is reproduced here, but also to hear Handel in context not with Bach, but with others with whom he would be more familiar. Handel, I sense, was never that serious about publishing keyboard pieces. Reading in the notes here about his renown as an improviser, I can understand the emphasis, perhaps, he placed on the performance of music rather than having it saved for posterity. His activities as an opera and vocal composer likely commanded the most of his time.
The comparison with Egarr doesn’t really result in calling either musician superior; they are different but equally enjoyable takes on the same piece. More interesting, perhaps, is the difference in sound (instrument, temperament/tuning) between the two readings.
Grisvard’s strong technical abilities are no better illustrated than in the great Chaconne, HWV 435, or in the lighter Capriccio in G minor, HWV 467. He calls different colors from a Hungerberg copy of a Mietke harpsichord using coupled registrations and the lute stop. And the sound quality of the album is strong; he opted for a close miking which helps with appreciating his technique and preserving the character of the music for a smaller space.
Unless you’re a specialist in Handel, it is likely that many of these short pieces (only three might be considered longer pieces, or suites) are new to you as they were to me. The variety of pieces, and the inclusion of works by different composers, make this an interesting recital that you can enjoy by hitting play and not worrying about much else.
In the past I’ve found Grisvard to be a supportive continuo player; now we get to hear him shine on his own in this first solo album. Choosing more obscure repertoire was an interesting choice, but reveals nevertheless both this musician’s interpretive and technical gifts.
Purchased through Highresaudio.com in 24 bit/96 kHz FLAC