Georg Friedrich Händel: Sarabande in D Minor (La Folia) HWV 437 – Voices of Music


The Sarabande in D Minor from Handel’s keyboard suite No. 4, arranged by Voices of Music. Cello solo improvised by William Skeen. Modern arrangements of the sarabande have been used in a number of films, including Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon. Dutch singer Petra Berger used the Sarabande as the musical setting for her song about Mary, Queen of Scots, “Still a Queen (In My End Is My Beginning).”

An orchestral version was also used on the first episode of the 2018 television mini-series of Agatha Christie’s “A.B.C. Murders”, starring John Malkovich as Poirot (Wikipedia). Handel’s composition shares a number of similarities with the “La Folia” variations, including 16 bar binary phrases with open and closed endings, and alternation between D Minor and A Major with an emphasis on F Major. However, there are also clear differences from La Folia.

It’s possible that Handel, who was an excellent arranger, transformed the material of La Folia just as he reworked Bononcini’s aria “Ombra mai fu.” The unusual phrase structure is also similar to the Aria “Lascia ch’io pianga.” Our arrangement differs markedly from modern version. We have preserved the original bass line and the angular inner voices. The sonority of the original baroque strings, while lacking the pomp of the modern winds and timpani, hews more closely to the harmonious original work of Handel.

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