Smith & Handel
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Label: Chandos - Chaconne
Cat No: CHAN0807
Number of Discs: 1
Release Date: 5th May 2015
WorksRiccardo Primo, Re d'Inghilterra, HWV23
ArtistsJulian Perkins (harpsichord)
The internationally acclaimed harpsichordist and early classical music specialist Julian Perkins here presents the premiere recording of six Suites for harpsichord by Handelís assistant, John Christopher Smith. The new release on Chaconne also features an arrangement by Handel of the overture to his opera Riccardo Primo.
Music assistants often have a poor press. Franz SŁssmayr is known only for his controversial completion of Mozartís Requiem, while Robert Craft is known largely for his role as Stravinskyís assistant. As Handelís amanuensis, John Christopher Smith has suffered a similar fate. Moreover, confusion has prevailed as to his identity. His father shared the same Christian names and was Handelís original amanuensis. Thus the omens for Smithís musical legacy were poor from the start.
This project seeks to reappraise Smith the composer, whose prolific music bubbles over with brilliance, wit, and charm Ė not to mention an irresistible penchant for trills!
As a man of the theatre, Smith cultivated a style that evinces a comic interplay between the baroque and rococo. In his pieces, athletic hand crossings, unpredictable figurations, sudden shifts from major to minor keys, and sequences built over repeated left-hand chords vie with one another to create music that is both technically demanding and theatrical.
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