LABELS: Chandos Chaconne
WORKS: Suite No. 1; Suite No. 2; Suite No. 3; Suite No. 4; Suite No. 5
PERFORMER: Sophie Yates (harpsichord)
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 0669
In her second volume of harpsichord music by Handel, Sophie Yates has embarked upon the Suites of the 1720 collection. This disc contains five of the eight Suites and includes that grand morceau choisi ‘The Harmonious Blacksmith’. These pieces are so delightful that it is astonishing to find how few complete recordings feature in the catalogue. Kenneth Gilbert and Blandine Verlet recorded them in the Seventies, Scott Ross in the Eighties and Paul Nicholson, perhaps Yates’s strongest competitor, in the mid-Nineties.
The new release offers graceful, rhythmic and articulate performances of music that should engender warm responses in readers with a feeling for the harpsichord and its later repertoire. Nothing in Yates’s playing is overstated; indeed, I felt on occasion that some of the allegro movements might have benefited from a less studied approach. But the overtly dance-related movements – the Allemande of the D minor Suite is a good example – come over with relaxed charm and refinement of detail. Nor is there any lack of technical virtuosity, a prerequisite for some of the invigorating variations contained in the D minor and E major Suites. Nicholas Anderson