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Bach: The Well-Tempered Clavier / Angela Hewitt

Release Date: 04/14/2009 
Label:  Hyperion   Catalog #: 67741   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Angela Hewitt
Number of Discs: 4 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 4 Hours 31 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Second time around for Hewitt’s Clavier yields wonderful new subtleties

Two years ago, in a cover story for this magazine, Angela Hewitt told how she was looking forward to her forthcoming world tour. She would be taking The Well-Tempered Clavier to different countries, different cultures, and was looking forward to exploring the work from many perspectives. This experience shines through in her new recording, deeper and more compelling even than her marvellous earlier effort.

-- Gramophone [6/2009]

"As part of her ongoing Bach series for Hyperion, Hewitt recorded the “48” back in 1997. In 2007–08 she toured
Read more extensively, playing both books in their entirety in concert. Feeling she had more to say about this great music, she asked Hyperion to let her re-record the work. It is a mark of the company’s integrity that they came to the party. The only real equivalent would be Columbia’s two recordings of Glenn Gould playing the Goldberg Variations, and they came 26 years apart. In a forthright note, Hewitt explains the changes in her approach. Since her 1997 recording, she has not only inevitably gotten to know the music better (“internalizing it” is how she puts it), but has been influenced by playing more Rameau and Couperin. She admits that she now brings personal touches to her performances, whereas the earlier recording projected a straighter approach.

If that sounds a warning bell, be assured that Hewitt remains a consummate musician: technically polished, thoughtful, considered—always serving the music as she sees it. For instance, she never races through any of the toccata-like pieces at high speed simply because she is able to, which other Bach pianists like Mustonen, Jõao Carlos Martins, and even Gould could be accused of doing. Hewitt’s innate feeling for the correct tempo is one of her strengths. She brings light and shade to her playing, helped by the distinctive colors of her preferred Fazioli piano, without going to extremes. (Martins, in contrast, seems to want to play everything either molto presto fff or molto adagio ppp.) In counterpoint, Hewitt is subtle in bringing out various lines, unlike Tureck who, in the opinion of some critics, overemphasizes each fugal entry. Hewitt was recorded in the Jesus-Christus-Kirche in Berlin, and the Hyperion engineers have outdone themselves. (How much better she sounds than Till Fellner in his ECM recording, where his piano seems to be located in an empty cathedral next door.) Many pieces in Hewitt’s new performance approach perfection: the gentle B?-Major Prelude (Book II), for example, which is full of character and clear as a bell."

FANFARE: Phillip Scott
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Works on This Recording

Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, BWV 846-869 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Angela Hewitt (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1722; Cöthen, Germany 
Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 2, BWV 870-893 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Angela Hewitt (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1738-1742; Leipzig, Germany 

Featured Sound Samples

The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1: No 1 in C Major: Prelude
No 7 in E flat major: Fugue
The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 2: No 4 in C sharp minor: Fugue
No 21 in B flat major: Prelude

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