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GEORG FRIEDRICH HANDEL
Die Acht Grossen Suiten (HWV 426-433)

Lisa Smirnova, piano. ECM 2213/13, 2 CDs, 46:50 + 58:31.
ecmrecords.com

by Steve Koenig

Lisa Smirnova is a perfect guide through these eight suites. The first few notes make you think you're commencing the Goldberg Variations. Although she plays piano rather than harpsichord or fortepiano, she uses it to command fluid phrasing without smearing notes, and she brings pianistic volume to the show when appropriate.

Significant to me is that in this performance the pieces sound of their own time, yet there is a barely perceptible and most satisfying shifting between classical, baroque and romantic feeling. The most important quality here is the frolicsome, dancelike rhythms present throughout.

These discs have been totally enjoyable throughout repeated playings, and have been a wonderful discovery for me. I have not heard Keith Jarrett's performance of four of these eight on his own ECM disc of various Handel keyboard suites.

 



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