Notes and Editorial Reviews
BACH PERFORMANCE ON THE PIANO
Angela Hewitt (pn)
68001 (DVD: 62:00)
Partita No. 4 in D,
Italian Concerto in F,
Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue in d,
class="ARIAL12"> Lecture: Bach Performance on the Piano, with musical illustrations (148:00)
Angela Hewitt, who is now on a world tour, has become the preeminent Bach pianist of our time. Her craft is well documented, and she has risen to become one of Hyperion’s best-selling artists, playing to packed venues in city after city, and garnering reviews that are consistently glowing and enviable. This two-DVD set from Hyperion shows that the press notices are far from hyperbolic; if anything, they are understated. The lecture was filmed at the Fazioli Pianoforti factory in Sacile, Italy, and the concert took place in the Fazioli Concert Hall.
Hewitt makes as convincing a case as is possible for Bach performance on the modern piano, noting in her lecture that Bach did dislike the early instruments by Cristofori, but this was primarily because of their stiff action and weak tone in the treble register. Furthermore, she contends that Bach would have certainly been pleased had he been given an opportunity to play one of the modern descendants of Cristofori’s original
Watching Angela Hewitt perform is unlike any other experience I have had. She has a presence that captures your attention and never relinquishes its hold, making it very difficult to divorce yourself from her music-making. Her movements are both fluid and fluent; she coaxes each note from her custom-built Fazioli as if it were the most important note ever quilled by Bach. The childhood years Hewitt spent singing in her father’s choir at the Anglican Cathedral in Ottawa, Canada, certainly bore fruit, for she has an unsurpassed ability when it comes to tapering a melody or sculpting a phrase; she can make the piano sound more vocal than the vast majority of her colleagues.
The visible delicacy in Hewitt’s hands masks a requisite and enviable command of the keyboard; they move from note to note with grace and ease, coming to rest gently, and suddenly leaping into action, easily overcoming time and again the mine field of difficulties found in the music of Bach. The attention she gives to the inner voices, the care with which she phrases, the agility of execution in the more technically challenging passages, and the emotion she invests in what seems at first hearing to be the simplest of material (e.g., the [in]famous Minuet in G) are all unprecedented and unsurpassed.
Hewitt’s recital is accompanied by a two-hour plus lecture—it’s really a one-on-one master class with the viewer—presented in an erudite and engaging manner, and copiously illustrated with musical examples (from the
, French and English suites, partitas, etc.). Her comments cover the whole range of Bach interpretation from the basics like phrasing, articulation, and learning a fugue to the dance in Bach, ornamentation, and more practical matters like which editions a performer should use, memorization, and of course, practicing.
Anyone considering serious pursuit of the solo keyboard music of Bach
own this two-DVD set; it is nothing short of a Bach Bible and leaves no doubt as to why Angela Hewitt can been called “the pianist who will define Bach performance . . . for years to come.”
There’s no question this beautifully filmed release will appear on my forthcoming Want List, and at this point, I can’t think of anything that would bump it from the top spot!
FANFARE: Michael Carter
Format: All regions NTSC 16:9 (Widescreen Video)
Disc 1 - DVD9 Dual Layer, Dolby®Digital 2.0
Disc 2 - DVD5: Single Layer, PCM Stereo/DTS 5.1/Dolby®Digital 5:1
Works on This Recording
Partita for Keyboard no 4 in D major, BWV 828 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Angela Hewitt (Piano)
Written: 1726-1731; Germany
Italian Concerto, BWV 971 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Angela Hewitt (Piano)
Written: 1735; Leipzig, Germany
Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue in D minor, BWV 903 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Angela Hewitt (Piano)
Written: circa 1720; Cöthen, Germany
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
A Master Class in Your Living Room November 15, 2013
By Peter K. (Fort Collins, CO) See All My Reviews
"I'm so glad I got this engaging DVD of Angela Hewitt first talking about how to approach playing Bach (with numerous examples) and then giving a full-length recital. It is like sitting at a master class directed to you, the aspiring Bach keyboard player. Since both my wife and I take piano lessons, we found it totally absorbing. Ms. Hewitt is not above taking some of the easiest pieces in the Bach opus (Minuet in G from the Anna Magdalena book; a couple of 2-part Inventions) to demonstrate her points about phrasing and articulation, and the results are nothing short of magical. This would be a wonderful gift for any aspiring piano student. It certainly made me want to sit right down and practice! Her performances on the recital DVD are excellent, but it is the teaching DVD that I treasure most."