Handel: Overtures & Harpsichord Suites

Handel’s overtures had an independent life almost from their inception, and the practice of performing them on keyboard instruments has a similarly long pedigree, beginning with a number of transcriptions made by the composer himself.

John Kitchen virtuosically evokes Handel’s orchestral palette in the welter of timbres and colours which he summons forth from the Russell Collection’s 1755 Jacob Kirckman harpsichord, a classic instrument from the apex of the English harpsichord-building tradition. Interspersed between the overture transcriptions are two of Handel’s suites written for the harpsichord; these are played on a 1709 single-manual Thomas Barton instrument from the Rodger Mirrey Collection, one of very few extant early eighteenth-century English harpsichords. Its modest size and unpretentious appearance do not prepare the listener for the extraordinarily rich and characterful sound that emerges.

"stylishly played … The music is universally glorious"

"What emerges most strongly from these performances is the generous variety of these overtures, from the patriotic grandeur of the Occasional Oratorio to the lightness of Athalia, and from the public drama of Saul to the sheer sparkiness of Teseo. To separate these characters must be hard enough with an orchestra but to do so on a harpsichord is surely a creditable achievement, as is that of skilfully avoiding the ear-wearying clatteriness to which such transcriptions can be prone."

Release Date: 29 June 2009
Catalogue No: DCD34053
Total playing time: 1:19:50
Recorded on 17-18 December 2008 at St Cecilia's Hall, Edinburgh
Producer & Engineer: Paul Baxter
24-bit digital editing: Paul Baxter
24-bit digital mastering: Paul Baxter
Design: Drew Padrutt
Booklet editor: John Fallas
Photography: Raymond Parks

Album Booklet

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