Review courtesy of MusicalCriticism.com
Handel: Eight Great Suites and Chaconne in G major HWV 435
Jory Vinikour (harpsichord), (Delos DE 3394)
Review by Stephen Graham (January 20, 2010)
(4.5 Stars rating)
Handel’s 1720 Eight Great Suites for keyboard, despite being comparatively neglected in his output, have received many fine and diverse recordings over the years. On piano, Sviatoslav Richter’s late-seventies reading of these eclectic and colourful works has long been a favourite, whilst Scott Ross’ 1984 harpsichord version has proved something of a benchmark of emotional maturity and technical assurance.
Jory Vinikour’s performance of the Suites — with a stunningly dramatic Chaconne in G Major, HWV 435 added in for good measure — matches the Ross in depth and in technique. Vinikour adds a real scholarly insight (which is augmented by his informative and lucid sleeve notes) to his performances. This, along with the strikingly warm and animated harpsichord sound, which positively soars out of John Phillips’ 2001 copy of an extended-bass 1739 Gräbner, mark this recording out as distinct, and quite special.
Each Suite has something to recommend it — whether it be a dazzling Gigue (the F minor), a sombre but sublime fugue and a thrilling toccata (D minor), a wonderfully elegant Allemande (E minor), or a dizzying fugal Allegro (F major) — and Vinikour consistently rises to the occasion. He sparkles in the fast sections, and languishes appealingly in the slower movements. Vinikour has nimble fingers, and his sharpness with inner voicing in fast contrapuntal sections is complemented by a steady grip on foreground details of line and development. The Allegro from the F major Suite is given new layers of interlocking and separated resonances here, whilst Vinikour alternates fantastically grand thematic statements with sudden, propulsive counterpoint in the Presto from the D minor Suite, all at breakneck speed…Click to read the full review at musicalcriticism.com