Classical Music | Piano Music

George Frideric Handel

Chaconne in G Major, G 229  Play

Margarita Shevchenko Piano

Recorded on 09/02/2008, uploaded on 01/10/2009

Musician's or Publisher's Notes

Handel composed at least twenty-five suites for the harpsichord during his career published in two volumes. The first, appearing in 1720, was issued after a Dutch publisher had published the same suites without Handel's consent. The second volume, published in 1733, is likely the additional suites Handel had promised in the preface to 1720 volume.

When compared to the suites of his great contemporary, J.S. Bach, Handel's suites are less consistent in adhering to the basic framework of the dance suite (allemande, courante, sarabande and gigue). Several include some type of variation movement, usually an air with variations or in a few cases a chaconne. In fact, two of the suites of the second volume, HWV 435 and HWV 442 (both in G major) are actually single movement chaconnes labeled as suites. In further comparing the suites of Handel and Bach, it is apparent that Handel's suites also lack the high degree of symmetry and craftsmanship as those of Bach. Possibly this was a result of their respective directions in music—Bach had the opportunity to perfect a highly contrapuntal style of keyboard writing while employed at the court of Weimar, whereas Handel, though a keyboard virtuoso in his own right, turned his focus more to the composition of operas and oratorios. In any case, Handel's keyboard suites have never garnered the same attentions as those by Bach.

The Chaconne in G major comes from the third suite in D minor of volume two. It is based on the prototypical ground bass of the Baroque period—beginning with a stepwise descent from tonic to dominant. The opening statement of the bass is majestic with full chords and brilliant figurations and ornamentation. The first eight variations maintain a consistent pattern. An eighth note countermelody appears in the right hand in the first variation, while in the second, the bass is embellished in like rhythm. In the third and fourth variations, the same procedure is followe but the notes are quickened to triplets. The fifth and sixth, and the seventh and eighth then further increase the rhythmical activity with sixteenth notes. The eighth variations comes to a pause on the tonic before the tempo slows to an adagio and a key change into the tonic minor for the ninth and succeeding variations. Variations nine through sixteen remain in the minor key and are markedly different in character, though Handel (or the publisher) neglects to indicate the return of the original tempo. The tonic key of G major returns in variation seventeen. Brilliant sixteenth note runs and arpeggios build momentum through the final variations.     Joseph DuBose

More music by George Frideric Handel

George Frideric Handel
Sonata opus 1 no.12 Adagio
George Frideric Handel
Sonata in G minor
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Lucrezia, a cantata
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Concerto Grosso in a minor
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George Frideric Handel
La Resurrezione, excerpts

Performances by same musician(s)

Domenico Scarlatti
Sonata in c-sharp minor, K 247

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