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Handel - Chaconne in G major with 62 variations

Discussion in 'Submission Room' started by Francois de Larrard, Jun 2, 2013.

  1. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Dear All,
    It has been a while since my last post to PS. Sorry for that, I still like this site and its attendees, my only excuse is work ! I confess that I spent the time I could save to play piano and study new pieces, rather than surfing on Internet, including PS.

    I have practiced this one for months now, and I have just recorded it, before to throw it in my personal dungeon...

    Handel has composed a number of variation sets, but this one is the longest, I think, although not played very often. It seems to have been composed before his moving to England, and well before Bach wrote the Goldberg variations. As you may notice, the bass of this chaconne is quite the same as the first fourth of the Golberg's theme. Of course the music is not soo deep and eternal, and the general tone much lighter, but I think it deserves to be played, for both musical and technical aspects. Just to have an idea of Handel's prolixity, imagine that, years after having written this chaconne, he wrote another one, on the same bass, with 17 new variations ! Which is most surprising in this set (for me), is the fact that the mood remains constantly major, luminous and happy. Sometimes I think that there was during the first half of XVIIIth century a quality of happiness which has been lost afterward...

    Thanks for listening !

    Handel - HWV 442 - Chaconne in G major with 62 variations (13:41)
     
  2. hreichgott

    hreichgott New Member

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    What a wonderful performance. Everybody should go listen to this right now. I like your interpretation; it's joyful, yes, and it's got a nice conversational quality to it that seems very fresh and appealing. Like the hands are two characters trading ideas and considering what the other one has to offer. Your articulations are very crisp and things like fast repeated notes are quite impressive.

    5:10-5:20 -- something odd happened here, maybe the hands got a bit disconnected from each other? On the other hand, after this point the music began to sound even more open and free. I must say that this is the kind of thing that would never bother me as an audience member listening to a live performance since it was a momentary problem and things got better afterward. (Was this a single take?)

    The variation beginning at 11:12 might be my favorite -- the phrasing on those multiple lines composed of alternating notes is so nice, thoughtful and playful, especially in the second half.

    (Now that you've put forward all this effort and created such a beautiful interpretation, you're consigning it to the dungeon???)
     
  3. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Francois, I am very glad you did not record this on harpsichord :)
    With all respect to Handel, 67 variations in the same major key, and mostly in the same mood and tempo, are rather too many - even if they are short. I think this accounts for why such a set is not often played. It'c convincingly done, the occasional fluffs don't bother too much because the spirit is right.
    I find Handel's keyboard music (the little I know of it) often surprisingly tricky for all its apparent simplicity. I guess he must have been a proficient player.
    What Bach could achieve with a similar theme is in another ball park of course - then it's not fair to compare anybody to Bach.
    I will put this on the site tonight.
     
  4. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    This is up.
    Francois, would you please observe the rules for naming and tagging ? The filename was ok except it needed to be in lowercase (remember that our host is a Linux system), and the ID3 tags should have been like in attached image.
     
  5. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thank you for these kind comments ! Yes, one of the qualities of these variations lies in the symetrical role of both hands, and in their constant dialogue.

    Actually this version is a collage of two takes. Expert ears will notice easily where the cuts have been made, since I am a less than average sound engineer... As for the variation you mention, it is simply one of the most difficult ones, and my two hands tend to fight with each other instead of developing a good collaboration :(

    I just meant that, due to limited time to spend every day on my piano, I tend to stop playing a piece once I have recorded it (except if I have opportunities to play it for a public, which should happen hopefully next summer for this one...
     
  6. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hello Chris,
    Hence I prefer harpsichord to piano only in French baroque music or XVIIth century pieces. In Bach, Handel and others, where there are little ornaments and much polyphony, I find the piano more expressive and giving room for more variety.
    I understand you find 67 variations quite a long way, but fortunately you have only 62 here :)
    I agree the interest of this piece is more historical than purely musical, as a precursor of Bach's Golbergs, although it is a more than decent composition, and an excellent study for digital technique. Yes it is quite tricky to play. The most difficult one is for me #55 (starting at 11:38). This is not apparent when you just listen to it, but try to play the RH part, and give me news...
     
  7. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Oups, sorry Chris, I'll try to behave next time ! Thanks for fixing my errors.
     
  8. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Haha, something to be thankful for, beautiful as each variation is. On a harpsichord, I fear they'd irritate me no end even in smaller numbers.

    I only have to look at the score to see that bit is harder than it ought to be ;-) A couple of pages of that could break you.

    BTW I have used the text from your initial post, revised a little bit, for the new page. That was useful.
     
  9. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Fine ! Thanks Chris
     
  10. StuKautsch

    StuKautsch Member Piano Society Artist

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    Francois,
    Finally had a chance to listen to these with the score. I'll echo Chris and say that these are more difficult than they should be, and it's too bad Handel did not modulate occasionally.

    Very good playing and a nice addition for the Society, since there probably are not very many recordings of this. BTW, the sound through my speakers was very clear.
     
  11. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thanks Stu ! Well, he did not modulate, but on the other hand, I find Handel's invention quite amazing, given the strict constraints he imposed to himself. Of course, there is not the beautiful architecture of Bach's Goldbergs, with this series of canons a la prima, a la secunda etc. up to the octava. Here it is more like a long improvisation, but the stylistic unity is quite admirable. Also, note how he finishes the set, by a small canon, as he would mean: I could continue for hours, but I guess you may have something else to do, therefore I am escaping... These variations have certainly influenced Bach, and also probably Beethoven (see e.g. some of the Diabelli's variations). Regarding these three giants, I have read somewhere that Beethoven had more consideration for Handel than for Bach. Bach copied numerous pieces of Handel and had a great respect for him, while Handel did not (of course, not a good point for him...).
     
  12. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thanks Stu ! Well, he did not modulate, but on the other hand, I find Handel's invention quite amazing, given the strict constraints he imposed to himself. Of course, there is not the beautiful architecture of Bach's Goldbergs, with this series of canons a la prima, a la secunda etc. up to the octava. Here it is more like a long improvisation, but the stylistic unity is quite admirable. Also, note how he finishes the set, by a small canon, as he would mean: I could continue for hours, but I guess you may have something else to do, therefore I am escaping... These variations have certainly influenced Bach, and also probably Beethoven (see e.g. some of the Diabelli's variations). Regarding these three giants, I have read somewhere that Beethoven had more consideration for Handel than for Bach. Bach copied numerous pieces of Handel and had a great respect for him, while Handel did not (of course, not a good point for him...).
     
  13. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    This would surprise me, as Beethoven grew up with Bach's WTC. Then, again Beethoven aspired for so long to write an opera, so maybe Handel was a role model for him.

    Yes, one of the things one has to love about Bach is his honest and sincere appreciation of other musicians, whereas many other composers were positively bitchy about their colleagues.
     
  14. musicrecovery

    musicrecovery Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Francois,

    Your performance is an ongoing relaxed and yet bouyant interpretation that sustains the energy
    and creative output for every one of the 62 variations. The clarity of the theme shines through
    each exuberent or cheerful idea.

    Congratulations and much appreciation for introducing me to this wonderful work.

    Kaila
     
  15. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thank you Kaila for your as exuberent and cheerful comments ! Yes it is beautiful music, and I really wonder why so few people play these variations... Best regards,
     

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