The title Handel in Darmstadt may be puzzling for general listeners, for Handel never passed any extended period of time in that southwestern German city. The title refers not to the travels of the composer himself, but to those of some of his works, which were copied into a so-called Darmstadt Harpsichord Book along with those of other German composers. One of these other composers was Christoph Graupner, in whose music the performer, Quebec harpsichordist Geneviève Soly, has specialized; part of her aim is to show the existence of a stronger connection between Handel and Graupner than has generally been recognized. This is a specialist matter, but there's also a good deal to interest the general Handel lover here. These are all early works of Handel, and they've never been brought together in quite this combination. They show a young composer with total master of the flamboyant Italian instrumental sonatas (a young genre itself at the time), the formal French suite, and the intricacies of German counterpoint, and adding his own peculiar economy of timing to each one. The opening Chaconne for keyboard in G major, HWV 435a, makes a good sample; it's neither a virtuoso work nor a technical exercise, but a rigorous yet unfailingly pleasing exploration of musical space. Soly is technically competent and versed in the music of the era, although her readings of the dance movements are rather plain. The sound environment of the Quebec church where the music was recorded is empty and enervating, but Soly's notes, in French and English, are informative and thorough.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Sonata del Signor Hendel in F major, HWV 427a|
|Suite in C major, HWV 443|
|Suite in B flat major, HWV 434|
|Suite in B flat major, HWV 440|