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Handel: Die Acht Grossen Suiten (Eight Great Suites) CD


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Biography

Smirnova (born 1972, in Moscow, currently living in Austria) opts for the modern piano. She had been working rigorously on the 8 Great Suites for five years prior to undertaking this recording, making many discoveries.

Educated at Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Conservatory, the Salzburg Mozarteum, and with additional studies with Maria Curcio and Robert Levin, Smirnova burst onto the ... Read more in Amazon's Lisa Smirnova Store

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Product details

  • Performer: Lisa Smirnova
  • Composer: George Frideric Handel
  • Audio CD (21 Nov 2011)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: CD
  • Label: ECM New Series
  • ASIN: B005MASIFW
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 99,127 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Disc: 1
1. Suite Nr. 2 F-Dur HWV 427, Adagio
2. Allegro
3. Adagio
4. Allegro
5. Suite Nr. 8 F-Moll HWV 433, Prelude
6. Allegro
7. Allemande
8. Courante
9. Gigue
10. Suite Nr. 4 E-Moll HWV 429, Allegro
See all 18 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. Suite Nr. 3 D-Moll HWV 428, Prelude
2. Allegro
3. Allemande
4. Courante
5. Air – Double 1-5
6. Presto
7. Suite Nr. 6 Fis-Moll HWV 431, Prelude
8. Largo
9. Allegro
10. Gigue
See all 20 tracks on this disc

Product Description

Product Description

ECM New Series debut for the exceptional Russian-born pianist Lisa Smirnova, playing Handel's Eight Great Suites (1720), also known as "The Eight London Suites" or "Suites de Pièces pour le Clavecin" - by any name, major pieces in the keyboard literature. Outstanding artists from Glenn Gould to Keith Jarrett have been drawn to these suites, but there are very few recordings of all eight, either on piano or harpsichord, currently on the market. Smirnova opts for the modern piano. She had been working rigorously on the Suites for five years prior to undertaking this recording, making many discoveries.

The 1720 edition of Suites - HWV 426-433 - is considered by many the most important collection of Handel's early works. Published by the composer himself, it includes works from both his Hamburg and English periods, all extensively revised by the composer, right through the printing process.

Educated at Moscow's Tchaikovsky Conservatory, the Salzburg Mozarteum, and with Maria Curcio and Robert Levin, Smirnova (born in Moscow, currently living in Austria) burst onto the classical scene in 1992 with a well-received debut at Carnegie Hall when she was only 20. In 1993, she received the Brahms Prize at the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, the first pianist ever to be honoured with this award, and her concert activities have extended to international concert podia in Europe, Asia and the USA. She has a long relationship with the Far East - since 2007 she has been Artistic Director of the Nagasaki-Ojika International Music Festival.

Smirnova's repertoire extends across the centuries - she has collaborated with contemporary composers including Kancheli, Silvestrov and Rihm, and won international awards for her recordings of Bach on MDG. Other widely-praised recordings include her account of Bloch's works for viola and piano with Daniel Raiskin, on BMG/Arte Nova.

Personnel: Lisa Smirnova (piano)

Review

(4 stars) Lisa Smirnova here performs the so-called "Eight London Suites" with great sensitivity and poise and subtle differentiation. -- The Independent, (Andy Gill), December 2, 2011

(4 stars) Smirnova shows what we have been missing...it's impossible not to be won over by their joy and sophistication. -- Financial Times, (Andrew Clark), February 18, 2012

(5 stars) Urbane, joyful, sophisticated playing...teems with buoyant gigues, elegant dances and vivacious fugues, and is alive with purposefulness and poetry. -- BBC Music Magazine, (Paul Riley), January 2012

These suites deserve to be far better known...truly delightful...Smirnova's limpid touch and lucid tone are perfect partners for Handel. -- Gramophone, (Jeremy Nicholas), March 2012

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dr Timbo on 26 May 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The eight great suites are fabulous works originally written for harpsichord. Smirnova gives a wonderful performance here, and the youth and vitality of the pieces shines through. I love this recording and as usual ECM have excelled in providing a real warmth to the music. Recommended whole-hearedly.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By JPB on 26 Oct 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Sensitive and thoughtful playing of some often overlooked music, nicely recorded with the exception of rather a lot of background noise made by the pianist

But overall a very enjoyable recording
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 8 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Keyboard Perfection 22 Feb 2012
By Kagan Heater - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
When I purchased this recording I was not familiar with Lisa Smirnova but now I will be on the lookout for any more of her present and future recordings. Her performance of Handel's keyboard suites is sublime. She demonstrates complete technical mastery and even the most difficult passages (and trust me, there are many) sound effortless. But there are other technically proficient recordings out there; what makes this one so engaging is the depth and range of emotion and expression. The first movement of the first suite is ethereal and delicate while others are driving and exuberant. Lisa has complete control over phrasing and the emotional development and each piece is a joy to listen to.

In my opinion, this is the best recording of Handel's keyboard suites available and well worth every penny. Go ahead and buy it. You will not be disappointed.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Frolicsome, dancelike rhythms 9 Mar 2012
By Steven H. Koenig - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Lisa Smirnova is a perfect guide through these eight suites. The first few notes make you think you're commencing the Goldberg Variations. Although she plays piano rather than harpsichord or fortepiano, she uses it to command fluid phrasing without smearing notes, and she brings pianistic volume to the show when appropriate.

Significant to me is that in this performance the pieces sound of their own time, yet there is a barely perceptible and most satisfying shifting between classical, baroque and romantic feeling. The most important quality here is the frolicsome, dancelike rhythms present throughout.

These discs have been totally enjoyable throughout repeated playings, and have been a wonderful discovery for me. I have not heard Keith Jarrett's performance of four of these eight on his own ECM disc of various Handel keyboard suites.

Editor, AcousticLevitation dot org
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Gorgeous music 20 Feb 2012
By Michael Roberts - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Russian-born pianist Lisa Smirnova has produced a gorgeous two-disk recording of Handel's eight keyboard suites (The Eight Suites or Die Acht Grossen Suiten). She captures Handel's wide range of emotions embedded here, by turns lively and joyful, in other spots spacious and meditative. Her interpretation is wonderful from beginning to end. The package is reminiscent of Keith Jarrett's excellent 2000 Handel recording,"Suites for Keyboard," another first-rate ECM production. [...]
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
The Eight Great London Suites of Handel Come Alive with Lisa Smirnova 23 April 2012
By Grady Harp - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Lisa Smirnova was born in Moscow but now resides in Vienna. Smirnova's vast repertoire includes the piano concertos of Mozart and work of Schubert, Haydn, Bach and Handel. Smirnova is deeply committed to the contemporary music having collaborated with Giya Kancheli and Minas Borboudakis. But on to the recording featured here - a triumphant traversal of the keyboard works of Handel that become magic in Smirnova's hands.

ECM New Series debut for Lisa Smirnova, playing Georg Friedrich Händel's Die Acht Grossen Suiten (The Eight Great Suites,1720), also known as "The Eight London Suites" or "Suites de Pièces pour le Clavecin", major pieces in the keyboard literature, too rarely brought together on disc. The 1720 edition of suites (HWV 426-433), published by the composer himself, is amongst the most important collections of Handel's early works. Handel's early biographer John Mainwaring noted these pieces for their difficulty due to the "fullness and activity of the inner parts" of these keyboard works ensures that "few persons are capable of doing them justice". Smirnova who has worked extensively on the Eight Great Suites, rises comprehensively to the challenge, on the modern piano, in these recordings made at Schloss Goldegg in Austria. The combination of her rhythmically bouyant playing and Handel's endlessly satisfying melodies -- be they in slow laments or sprightly gigues -- makes for a very welcome new album.

A pristine sound captures a stunning performance from Lisa Smirnova and makes for an especially brilliant debut recording for ECM. These particular works were published by Handel with special authorization from George I and include his Hamburg and English periods. The ability and technique required to translate these works into a recorded format without losing authenticity are immense. The Eight Great Suites are emotionally gripping works of passion. Intricate detail combined with a pure musical joy that is rarely so convincingly transferred to a recorded medium of any kind. Faster movements place the emphasis on technical proficiency which is artistic virtuosity in this setting. The slower movements are dramatic and bold statements of musical clarity from a unique and rich sonic color palette.

The Eight Great Suites is arguably Smirnova's finest performance to date and a stellar example of the artistic level of excellence consistent with the ECM New Series. Handel's aesthetic genius revolved in and around sound. There is a uniquely identifiable organic sound yet adequate description of its innate beauty will keep writers mystified for years to come. And this new recording sets a new gold standard for the music of Handel's keyboard works. Lisa Smirnova is astonishingly fine. Grady Harp, April 12
Sublime 27 April 2014
By pwatel - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I love these suites (I have 12 versions) as good as the best of Papa Bach IMHO
And yes is the best recording available, Jarret and Richter are great, but none achieve the poetry the beauty of Smirnova. A must if you like baroque keyboard music on a modern piano
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