From Handel's Home - The Keyboards of Handel Hendrix House. Julian Perkins. © 2024 Delphian Records Ltd


Sumptuously Fragile Sounds

GERALD FENECH joyously recommends keyboard music from Handel's home in London

'Technically flawless performances ...'


Born in Halle, Germany, on 23 February 1685, Georg Frideric Handel lived the greatest part of his life in England. Indeed, soon after arriving there in 1712, Handel made his home in London and eventually became a British citizen in 1727. The composer was the first occupant of 25 Brook Street, which he rented from 1723 until his demise in 1759.

Almost all his works after 1723, amongst them many of his best-known operas, oratorios and ceremonial music, were composed and partially rehearsed in the house, which contained a variety of keyboard instruments, including harpsichords, a clavichord and a small chamber organ.

Listen — Handel: Fugue in G (Concerto Grosso Op 6 No 1)
(DCD34314 track 15, 0:00-0:58) ℗ 2024 Delphian Records Ltd :

In 1959 the musicologist Stanley Sadie came up with the idea of turning the house at 25 Brook Street into a museum, but it took thirty years for Sadie and his wife Julie Anne to start seeing their dream becoming a reality. Together they set up the Handel House Trust, the charity which oversaw the conversion of the house into a museum.

Incidentally, a great guitarist of the 1960s and 1970s also lived at 23 Brook Street. Indeed, Jimi Hendrix moved into a third-floor flat next door at No 23 in 1968. Both Handel and Hendrix came to London to become a star, so it is fitting that a museum dedicated to these two musical legends is in London. This is the only Hendrix home in the world that is open to the public.

After Handel's death in 1759, his musical instruments passed to John Christopher and his son of the same name, two people who helped Handel in no small way whenever the composer found himself in difficulties. Like hundreds of memorabilia, these instruments are today also housed in this Handel Hendrix House in London's Mayfair, and this particular collection comprises a good number of keyboard instruments - spinets, organs and harpsichords - both originals from Handel's own day and reproductions, representing a roster of some of the greatest names from Kirckman and Smetzler to Geotze and Gwynn and Bruce Kennedy's copy of the Colmar Ruckers harpsichord.

Listen — Handel: Adagio (Suite No 2 in F)
(DCD34314 track 7, 0:00-0:55) ℗ 2024 Delphian Records Ltd :

This special programme focuses on keyboard works by Handel performed on these particular instruments by Julian Perkins, the acclaimed and ever-thoughtful keyboard specialist. For many reasons, this recital is indeed unique in that it conjures up a treasure trove of the timbres and sounds that would have been heard when Handel and his colleagues played music in these very rooms: original works and arrangements by the master himself and his contemporaries.

This is a superb programme which also includes pieces by William Babell, Thomas Roseingrave, Rhian Samuel, Domenico Scarlatti, John Stanley and Georg Philipp Telemann.

Listen — Telemann: Gratieusement (Fantasia in B flat)
(DCD34314 track 19, 1:28-2:13) ℗ 2024 Delphian Records Ltd :

This compilation is full of sumptuously fragile sounds whose rhythmic flow instils in the listener a longing for peace and happiness. Technically flawless performances complete an issue of great historic value that takes us back to Handel's London home in flesh and blood. Joyously recommended.

Copyright © 12 February 2024 Gerald Fenech,
Gzira, Malta



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