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Handel published his ‘Suites de Pièces pour le Clavecin’ in 1720 to counteract the increasing number of pirate editions in circulation. Composed over the previous 15 years (though he revised and expanded them for publication), the suites were more likely a compilation of his most popular pieces than intended as a coherent set. Even so, they are attractively varied – each in a different key, each with a different internal structure – and feature an assortment of dance movements, improvisatory preludes and bravura anomalies, such as the thrilling ‘Passacaille’ that closes the G minor suite. Richard Egarr plays a modern copy of a 1638 Ruckers harpsichord, pitched at a’= 422, an unusually high pitch level, but one Handel is known to have used. The brighter timbres – ‘more ping-y’, to quote Egarr – complement his lavish ornamentation, as rococo flourishes and delicate traceries alike are enhanced by a scintillating clarity.

Graham Lock Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Early Music Today, 2014 - ©Rhinegold Publishing