Sunday, April 13, 2008

Handel's Suites are miracles

'Interesting to listen once again to this 'historic' recording. I know the general public didn't really take to it, so that the people who sell these things clearly didn't make any profit (will it suffer the same fate as Berg's Concerto?.) And why? Audiences (in every country) prefer to buy Bach - out of habit - and because, in doing so, they think they are showing 'greater musicality'. They undervalue Handel or else they ignore him completely. During their own lifetimes, it was exactly the opposite. Handel travelled everywhere in a carriage, while Bach humbly played the organ at the Thomas-Kirche.

Now for Gavrilov and Richter. As soon as I started to listen, Gavrilov struck me as infinitely more interesting (in spite of a certain irreproachability to Richter's playing). Everything about his playing is fresher, more alive, freer. There's nothing studied about it. Only occasionally does he allow himself to be carried away by the fortissimo passages, and here he has a tendency to bang.'

Oddly, the friends who were listening with me and to whom I didn't say who was playing what, often thought that Gavrilov was me and vice versa. If I'd not known, I two could have mixed the two of us up. Clearly there's a reciprocal influence here. Be that as it may, these Suites are veritable miracles, laminated in gold but with virtually no patina.
From Sviatoslav Richter's Notebooks and Conversations edited by Bruno Monsaingeon. Richter, who was the mystery source of my Xenakis quote, kept detailed notes on concerts and recordings he heard by a wide range of performers and composers. There is an almost Zen like avoidance of duality in his observations on music ranging Bach to Boulez and Stockhausen. His detachment and openmindedness is a lesson to us all. I wouldn't mind playing the piano like him either.

The recordings of the Handel Keyboard Suites that he made in 1982 with Gavrilov are indeed veritable miracles. Despite his lack of confidence in their longevity they are still in the catalogue here and here. But given the current shenanigans at EMI that may not last. If they are not in your collection buy them while you can.

Now read what happened to Andrei Gavrilov.
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3 comments:

Antoine Leboyer said...

Yes, the Handel keyboards suites are marvelous. Yet, there is one French pianist who trumps both Russian giants: Anne Queffelec's recording is a must hear (http://www.amazon.fr/passacaille-suite-sol-mineur-hwv432/dp/B000DZJNIC/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1208114044&sr=1-4)

Antoine

Pliable said...

More information from Antoine:

Review of the Handel is at http://www.concertonet.com/scripts/cd.php?ID_cd=828

It was published in '06 and I rated it already higher than the Richter Gavrilov which I grow with.

AL

Andrew said...

This is a more available release of Vol. II on Amazon, which seems the same on all other accounts: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0007RO584