Georg Friedrich Händel / Lisa Smirnova | DIE ACHT GROSSEN SUITEN | ECM New Series 2213/14



If the rich diversity of Händel’s entire oeuvre has long since overshadowed his reputation as composer of keyboard works, in his lifetime Händel’s popularity as player-composer was second to none. As Uwe Schweikert observes in the liner notes, “In quantity alone Händel's Suites and the Six Fugues or Voluntarys do not brook comparison with Bach. But the number of prints and handwritten copies disseminated throughout the whole of Europe far exceeds those of Bach or Scarlatti, demonstrating the esteem that Händel's harpsichord music enjoyed among his contemporaries. In his day Händel was considered not only a master of Italian opera, English oratorio and organ improvisation, but also 'one of the very greatest masters in technique and keyboard performance'. The esteem accorded to Händel the harpsichord virtuoso was matched by the admiration bestowed on his compositions for this instrument.”

Lisa Smirnova rises to the challenge, on the modern piano. She had been working rigorously on the 8 Great Suites for five years prior to undertaking this recording – begun at Austria’s Schloss Goldegg in 2007 – making many discoveries along the way.