Handel: Chaconne (with 21 variations) in G, HMV435

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Handel,Haydn
LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: Chaconne (with 21 variations) in G, HWV435; Suite No. 2 in F, HWV427; Suite No. 8 in F minor, HWV433; Haydn: Sonata ‘Un piccolo divertimento’ (Variations in F minor), Hob XVII:6; Piano Sonata in E flat, Hob XVI:52
PERFORMER: Angela Hewitt (piano)


Angela Hewitt’s notes reveal some secrets of her interpretation, a mixture of heartfelt response to the music and rigorous scholarship. What she does not discuss is her ability to transfer the quality of harpsichord (for Handel) and fortepiano (for Haydn) to her beloved Fazioli piano.

It’s neither mimicry nor trickery. Rather, she distils the essence of the original instruments without compromising her out-and-out commitment to the modern keyboard.

She takes a broad view of Handel’s 21 Chaconne variations, making one significant pause before the magical change to the minor mode in the middle, and then gradually working up pace and tone to a triumphal end. In the Suites, virtually every bar has some subtle nuance of tone or rubato flexing, but not at the expense of the overview. I especially enjoyed the detailed part-playing in the fugal movements.

The large-scale Haydn E flat Sonata is superb, above all the middle movement in an astonishing and other-worldly E major. Hewitt’s dynamic range is bold – she refers to Haydn’s feeling for the richness of English Broadwood pianos – and the glittering facility of the final Presto is thrilling.


Altogether a splendid contribution to these composers’ anniversary year. George Pratt