The Handel Project (Seong-Jin Cho)
Seong-Jin Cho (piano) (DG)
The Handel Project
Brahms: Handel Variations; Handel: Keyboard Suites, HWV 427, 430 & 433
Seong-Jin Cho (piano)
DG 486 3018 56:46 mins
It’s hard to imagine a more persuasive case being made for the performance of Handel’s harpsichord suites by pianists than the evidence of Seong-Jin Cho’s album The Handel Project. This draws on music composed and published by Handel in 1720 (three suites ‘pour le clavecin’) and 1733 (a Sarabande and Minuet from two different suites), as well as Brahms’s Op. 24 Variations (composed on the Aria from another of Handel’s 1733 suites). The selection recalls András Schiff’s Teldec release, recorded live in Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw in December 1994. On the basis of this, Cho’s first recorded exploration of Baroque repertoire, the younger pianist can comfortably take his place among such hallowed and distinguished company.
From the opening F major Suite, HWV 427 each of Handel’s movement are finely etched with meticulous voicing and stylish ornamentation, from the joyful capriciousness of the F minor Gigue, HWV 433 to the elegant tempo rubato in the Prelude of HWV 430. Wilhelm Kempff’s arrangement of the G minor Minuet, however, seems out of place amongst Cho’s decidedly stylish but clearly 21st-century interpretations. Cho traverses the breadth of Brahms’s Variations with aplomb and flair, capturing the grandeur of 1 and 13, the elegance of 3, 18, 21 and 22, and the audacious virtuosity of 14 and 15. The Fugue is simply jaw-dropping.