Performance Monday, February 9, 2015 | 7:30 PM

Richard Egarr

Weill Recital Hall
Both Bach and Handel—two Baroque giants—were virtuosos and master improvisers, but Handel’s keyboard music has been eclipsed by his other works. In his E-Minor Suite, Handel spins tightly intertwined melodic lines before releasing a storm of notes in an energetic closing Gigue. Bach’s partitas and French suites have been touchstones for keyboardists for centuries. While they follow the conventions of the Baroque dance suite, he raised this form to its highest level with brilliant flights of invention and inspired melodies.

Part of Salon Encores.


  • Richard Egarr, Harpsichord


  • BACH French Suite No. 5 in G Major
  • BACH Partita No. 6 in E Minor
  • BACH Partita No. 1 in B-flat Major
  • HANDEL Suite No. 3 in D Minor

  • Encore:
  • HANDEL Praeludium from Suite No. 5 in E Major, HWV 430

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately two hours, including one 20-minute intermission.


  • Richard Egarr

    Richard Egarr brings a joyful sense of adventure and a keen, inquiring mind to all his music making. He is renowned for directing from the keyboard, conducting, playing concertos (on the organ, harpsichord, fortepiano, or modern piano), playing chamber music, and giving recitals at the world's leading venues.

    Since 2006, Mr. Egarr has been music director of the Academy of Ancient Music, with whom current plans include a three-year Monteverdi opera cycle at the Barbican in London, where the orchestra is associate ensemble. In 2006, Mr. Egarr established the Choir of the AAM, and opera and oratorio lie at the heart of his repertoire.

    Mr. Egarr regularly appears as guest conductor with other leading ensembles, ranging from Boston's Handel and Haydn Society to the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and The Philadelphia Orchestra. He is currently principal guest conductor of the Residentie Orchestra in The Hague and associate artist of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. He holds teaching positions at The Juilliard School and at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam.

    During the 2014-2015 season, Mr. Egarr's plans in North America include an eight-concert tour with the Academy of Ancient Music, with appearances at Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, his debut with the Seattle Symphony, a return to the Handel and Haydn Society, and a performance with Les Violons du Roy at Carnegie Hall in April.

    Mr. Egarr's extensive recording output, mainly for Harmonia Mundi, includes solo works by Gibbons, Couperin, Purcell, Mozart, and J. S. Bach; inspired collaborations with violinist Andrew Manze; and numerous discs with the AAM, including Bach's harpsichord concertos, "Brandenburg" concertos, and a MIDEM, Edison, and Gramophone award-winning series of Handel discs. His latest releases are of Bach's St. John Passion and orchestral suites with AAM on its own label, AAM Records, as well as Handel's harpsichord suites for Harmonia Mundi.

    Mr. Egarr trained as a choirboy at York Minster and Chetham's School of Music, as an organ scholar at Clare College in Cambridge, and with Gustav and Marie Leonhardt, who formed the inspiration for his work in historical performance.

    More Info


Bach's French Suite No. 5 in G (Gavotte)
Richard Egarr, Harpsichord

At a Glance

Although Bach and Handel were both virtuoso harpsichordists and organists and consummate improvisers on their instruments, Handel wrote far less keyboard music than Bach. This, in part, reflects the trajectories of their respective careers: Bach spent most of his life as a hardworking church musician in Germany, while the London-based Handel was Europe’s preeminent composer of operas. Yet both men made major contributions to the genre of the harpsichord suite. Handel’s debut volume of suites, published in 1720, was a bestseller, as were the six partitas that Bach collected in 1731 as the first installment of his magisterial Clavier-Übung, or Keyboard Practice.

Comparisons between the two Baroque masters are inevitably somewhat tendentious. Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach—himself a brilliant composer and keyboard player, but hardly an impartial critic—awarded the palm to his father. “In Handel’s suites,” he wrote, “there is considerable imitation of the French manner of the period, and there is not much variety; in the parts of Bach’s Clavier-Übung, all is originality and variety. The melody of the arias with variations in Handel’s suites is flat and for our times far too simple. Bach’s arias with variations are still good today: they are original and will accordingly not easily become outdated.”

Handel, too, had his contemporary partisans, however, and today we recognize that both composers had a claim to genius. By juxtaposing one of Handel’s greatest harpsichord suites with three of Bach’s, Richard Egarr encourages us to appreciate the differences and similarities between these two Baroque masters.
Program Notes
This performance is part of Early Music in Weill Recital Hall.

Part of