Sunday, May 8, 2011

Video: Handel--Air and Variations (The Harmonious Blacksmith)

Two years ago I wrote:
Claude Debussy's Arabesque I might be the "oldest" piece I play, in the sense that I've played it longer than the others.
But I think George Frideric Handel's Air and Variations (The Harmonious Blacksmith) is even "older". I probably learned it a year earlier than the Debussy, which makes it thirty years since I first learned it.

The piece, written around 1720, is in what's called the English Division style: the theme is stated in (mainly) quarter notes, or one note per beat. Then there's a variation where the right hand plays two notes per beat, a variation with the left hand playing two notes per beat, then a variation with three notes per beat in the right hand, then three notes per beat in the left hand. Finally, the fifth variation has four notes per beat in both hands. This gives the impression that the piece keeps speeding up: twice as fast, three times as fast and finally four times as fast.


  1. Arabesque I is beautiful but this is terrific!

  2. I really love this recording. Does the surprise come at the very end?

  3. Yes. The extra octave in the last scale is, uh, extra.