About this work
Handel's first volume of Suites for keyboard was published in London in 1720 by Handel himself because, as he wrote in the preface, "surrepticious and incorrect Copies of them had got Abroad." Also called Suites de pieces pour le clavecin or Lessons because they were used by Handel for didactic purposes, the suites are sets of stylized dances often preceded by a prelude and sometimes including a fugue or a set of variations. The first suite from the first volume is in A major and consists of four movements: Prelude, Allemande, Courante, and Gigue. The opening Prelude is a toccata, a touch piece, with massive rolled chords, connected scales, and trills. The Allemande, marked Andantino, is a slight and delightful piece in first two, then three, then four, and finally five voices. The Courante is a lively, triple-time dance with elegant embellishments and a graceful rhythm. The closing Gigue is a brilliant piece in fast 12/8 with rushing lines and rambunctious half trills.