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English Suites BWV 806-811

Angela Hewitt (Piano)

Hewitt’s English Suites

K-9

Bach: The English Suites

English Suites BWV 806-811 [28:15, 21:28, 22:28, 20:50, 20:47, 31:17]

Angela Hewitt (Piano)

Hyperion

Aug 2002 (1, 3, 6); Mar-Apr 2003 (2, 4, 5)

2-CD / TT: 145:05

Recorded at Henry Wood Hall, London, England. 2nd recording of English Suite No. 6 BWV 811 by A. Hewitt.
Buy this album at: Amazon.com | Amazon.com [SACD]


Uri Golomb wrote (December 2, 2003):
I recently received for review Hewitt's set of the English Suites. Hyperion says it's the penultimate volume in her Bach series.

Here's the review I wrote (which will eventually published in Goldberg, though I'm not sure exactly when...)

Angela Hewitt writes of one of the gigues in this set that it should be rendered with "charm rather than bravura", and on another that it requires "clarity, precision, and a sense of line". These are apt descriptions of her own virtues throughout this set.

Hewitt's interpretations are thoughtful and detailed, and might seem understated on first hearing. Her tone is consistently beautiful: she never displays the hard-edged, brilliant sonorities which Perahia occasionally exploits to great effect in his set. Most of her tempi are moderate-to-slow. She achieves a seemingly effortless clarity, gently underlining (rather than boldly highlighting) inner lines and motifs.

For all her seeming moderation, Hewitt exploits most of the modern piano's resources, displaying a wide range of articulation, dynamics and colours. She rarely projects immediate contrasts - sudden transition from loud to soft, or from full-toned to delicate; instead, she prefers constant nuances, subtly shifting attention between different strands in the texture, and cumulatively, almost imperceptibly, delineating a movement's progression. Repeats are often varied (including additional ornamentation). Through these subtle means Hewitt projects the different characters of individual dances, as well as those of entire suites - from the radiant serenity of the Fourth Suite to the depth and grandeur of the Sixth.

The piano's sound, and the recording, are sometimes over-resonant, and occasionally I would have preferred more incisive articulation. But these minor reservations hardly detracted from my enjoyment of these moving performances. This is one of the finest achievements in Hewitt's highly-acclaimed Bach series. Fierce competition from András Schiff and Murray Perahia notwithstanding, this might well be the finest set of the English Suites on the piano.

[A few comments: I did not mention Glenn Gould, though there is also much to enjoy in his set, as his set is so unusual that it seemed beyond the scope of comparison -- I personally enjoy the way he "dissects" many of the Sarabandes, for example, but I'm not sure I'd recommend it to other listeners... and I have yet to hear the Robert Levin set. Another virtue of this set is the liner notes. Hewitt's enthusiasm for these works is conveyed in a sometimes conversational style of writing -- a few sentences read more like an interview transcription than like a written essay. This might bother some readers, though I got used to it fairly quickly. They're both enjoyable and informative, and give some insight into her musical choices as a performer]

 

Feedback to the Review

Piotr Jaworski wrote (December 2, 2003):
[To Uri Golomb] Excellent review Uri! I share your findings but first of all – your final assessment!

Wonderful performance, one could think that after 'Toccatas' Angela Hewitt will have to work really hard to surprise us. But she did it with perfect ease, with "charm" exactly.

May I ask your permission to forward your review to the Polish Bach List? Hewitt’s English Suites

 

English Suites BWV 806-811: Details
Recordings:
Until 1950 | 1951-1960 | 1961-1970 | 1971-1980 | 1981-1990 | 1991-2000 | From 2001
Comparative Review:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6
Reviews of Individual Recoirdings:
English - A. Hewitt | English - M. Perahia Vol. 2 | English - P. Watchorn | W. Rübsam - Part 4
General Discussions:
Part 1


Angela Hewitt: Short Biography | Recordings of Instrumental Works
Reviews of Instrumental Recordings:
A Stunning New Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 2 / Bach Recording for 1999 | Review: Toccatas played by Angela Hewitt | Hewitt’s English Suites | Review: Hewitt’s Goldberg Variations | Angela Hewitt Bach’s Recital Disc on Hyperion | Hewitt Bach arrangements [Bright] | New Album by Angela Hewitt [McElhearn]


Instrumental Works: Recordings, Reviews & Discussions - Main Page | Order of Discussion
Recording Reviews of Instrumental Works: Main Page | Organ | Keyboard | Solo Instrumental | Chamber | Orchestral, MO, AOF
Performers of Instrumental Works: Main Page | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z



 

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