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Sophie Yates: Handel – Harpsichord Works vol.3 (FLAC)

Sophie Yates: Handel - Harpsichord Works vol.3 (FLAC)
Sophie Yates: Handel – Harpsichord Works vol.3 (FLAC)

Composer: George Frideric Handel
Performer: Sophie Yates
Format: FLAC (tracks)
Label: Chandos
Catalogue: CHAN0688
Release: 2002
Size: 468 MB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: yes

Keyboard Suite, HWV 431 in F sharp minor
01. I. Prelude
02. II. Largo
03. III. Allegro
04. IV. Gigue [Presto]

Keyboard Suite, HWV 432 in G minor
05. I. Overture: [Largo – Presto]
06. II. Andante
07. III. Allegro
08. IV. Sarabande
09. V. Gigue
10. VI. Passacaille

Keyboard Suite No. 8 in F minor, HWV 433
11. I. Adagio
12. II. Allegro
13. III. Allemande
14. IV. Courante
15. V. Gigue

Keyboard Suite, HWV 440 in B flat major
16. I. Allmand
17. II. Corrant
18. III. Saraband
19. IV. Jigg

Keyboard Suite, HWV 441 in G major
20. I. Allemande
21. II. Allegro
22. III. Corante
23. IV. Aria: Presto
24. V. Menuetto
25. VI. Gavotta and Double
26. VII. Gigue

27. Keyboard Suite No. 9 in G major: I. Prelude

Sophie Yates brings formidable technique and strong dramatic feeling to these suites. The works of the first collection (1720, HWV426-33) are the more demanding, each of them opening with a prelude (or overture) – complex, pensive, often sombre – with a large-scale, fully worked fugue.
Yates plays these in an appropriately rhetorical manner, rhythmically taut yet with enough flexibility and attentiveness to the music’s caesuras to shape and characterise it, at the same time giving it some sense of the improvisatory. Then she takes the fugues at a lively pace, just a touch too fast for the music to sound comfortable: this is brilliant, edge-of-your seat playing.

Her playing, with its thoughtful details of timing, clearly conveys the structure of the music. She finds the same grandeur of manner in the Passacaille that ends the G minor Suite. For the rest, it’s mainly dance music: some lively courantes and exuberant gigues, sober and deliberate allemandes, spacious and noble sarabandes – the crisp and precise fingerwork in that of the B flat Suite in the Second Set (1733), with its intensely detailed line, is a delight.

These are the most appealing versions of Handel’s suites: fresh, alive, with a real command of style and technique but also just a hint of risk about the playing. Handel’s harpsichord music has sometimes been called dull, but there isn’t a moment here when you’d believe that.

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