From Handel's Home: The Keyboards of Handel Hendrix House

Handel Hendrix House in London’s Mayfair holds a substantial collection of keyboard instruments – spinet, organs, and harpsichords – both original from Handel’s own day and reproductions, representing a roster of some of the greatest names from Kirckman and Snetzler to Goetze & Gwynn and Bruce Kennedy’s copy of the Colmar Ruckers harpsichord.

From these instruments the acclaimed and ever-thoughtful keyboard specialist Julian Perkins has created a very special recital, conjuring a treasure trove of the timbres and sounds that would have been heard when Handel and his colleagues played music in these very rooms: original works and arrangements by the master himself and his contemporaries, with Carole Cerasi joining as duet partner for Handel’s sumptuous Suite in C minor.

"Handel House contains many original and period items from Handel’s time, including a range of keyboard instruments. Six of them — three original, three copies modelled on 18th-century instruments — feature on this recording and the range of harpsichords, organs and spinet guarantees a varied programme ...The music mixes Handel’s own with that of contemporaries, such as Telemann and Scarlatti. Two Scarlatti sonatas, played on a 1754 double-manual harpsichord made by Jacob Kirkman of London, are a highlight ...Among the Handel items are the Suite No 2 in F Major, given a lively performance by Julian Perkins, and the Suite in C Minor for Two Keyboards, in which he is joined by Carole Cerasi. Handel’s Voluntary or a Flight of Angels chirrups brightly on a copy of a single-manual organ from 1749.Rare pieces include a captivating Toccata in G Minor by William Babell, getting its first recording, and a brief Sarabande from Isolation Suite by Rhian Samuel, a contemporary bonus that brings this historical disc bang up-to-date"

★ ★ ★ ★


"This fabulous disc will simply delight. What a gem ... The repertoire is as wonderful as the instruments, and besides a number of Handel’s compositions, such as a selection of movements from Rodelinda, a delightful, effervescent 1-minute Flight of Angels, and a lively Suite in C minor for Two Keyboards, with Carole Cerasi joining Perkins, there is a mixture from his contemporaries, which includes first recordings and rarities ... Perkin’s playing is superbly articulated; his virtuosic skill brings the varied instruments to life and it is a ‘treasure trove of timbres and sounds’. The dynamics, ornamentation, and colour illustrate magnificence in a superbly created programme performed in a room where Handel, his friends, and his contemporaries would have gathered to play, all captured by Delphian’s recording engineers"


"Harpsichords, organs and spinets: Oh my! A treasure trove of timbres that would have been heard when Handel and his circle played at home ..."


"This recording provides an aural snapshot of the kinds of instruments that Handel interacted with during his time living at 25 Brook Street. Thus writes Olwen Foulkes, assistant curator of London's Handel Hendrix House. A fascinating snapshot it is, too, featuring a single-manual and two double-manual harpsichords, a spinet, a single-manual organ and a bureau organ, so called on account of its small desk-like case. This colourful keyboard spectrum is matched by a rewardingly varied roster of composers, led by Handel and including Telemann, his lifelong buddy William Babell, the blind organist and composer John Stanley, Thomas Roseingrave, Domenico Scarlatti and Rhian Samuel, a Welsh composer of our present time. Julian Perkins has given careful thought to compiling his programme. As already implied, there are splendid contrasts of colour-but also of style, with juxtapositions that provide food for thought. Each piece carries the identity of the instrument on which it is played and producer and engineer deserve praise for the fine sound quality. I found the bright sound of John Snetzler's bureau organ especially delightful"

When the Handel (now Handel Hendrix) House opened in 2001, it could make use of only the top floors of the Mayfair property the composer had lived in from 1723 onwards, but when the late and much-missed harpsichord maker and technician Mark Ransom left the museum a generous bequest in 2020 it was at last able to begin work on opening up an extra floor downstairs, thereby making more room for its mouthwatering collection of original and replica keyboard instruments. This album, intelligently curated by Julian Perkins, is a happy celebration of that gift and of the enlarged museum's reopening in 2023. Handel is at the centre of it, of course, mostly played on a double-manual harpsichord by Bruce Kennedy inspired by the extended Ruckers 1624 instrument Handel is known to have owned. It's the same harpsichord Laurence Cummings used in his 2008 recording of the Eight Great Suites of 1720 (Somm, 8/10), also made in the Handel House, and it presents much the same hard-edged, metal-tinged tone which, though clear and strong, can in truth wear the ear after too long in the hard-panelled rooms of Handel's home. That's not a danger here, however, as Perkins uses it only for the Second Suite, an arrangement of the Rodelinda overture, and a rather lovely early suite for two harpsichords (the lost second part here reconstructed), in which Carole Cerasi guests on the Kennedy while Perkins moves to a 1754 Kirckman, distinctively softer in sound as the two players swap parts in repeats ... Two fantasias by Handel's faraway friend Telemann and a harpsichord transcription of Rhian Samuel's nonchalantly bitonal- feel Sarabande (from her piano Isolation Suite of 2020) complete the recital, which is played by Perkins with exemplary taste, precision and love. Pick up a copy when you're next in the museum!'

Release Date: 9 Feb 2024
Catalogue No: DCD34314
Total playing time: 1:11:00

Recorded on 8-10 May 2023 at Handel Hendrix House, London

Producer/Engineer: James Waterhouse
24-bit digital editing: Jack Davis
24-bit digital mastering: Paul Baxter

Design: Eliot Garcia
Booklet editor: Henry Howard
Cover: Martin O’Neill, cutitout.co.uk

Session photography: foxbrush.co.uk

Delphian Records Ltd – Edinburgh – UK www.delphianrecords.com

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Overture to Rodelinda:4 - Presto


Filmed in the dead of night in Handel's own living room - Julian Perkins and Carole Cerasi perform his Suite in C Major for Two Keyboards

Album Booklet

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