Do please welcome to your classical music collection these stirringly beautiful renditions of Bach piano transcriptions! All the pieces included in this marvelous CD are remarkable in the way they capture the spirit of the instruments for which they were intended. Canadian pianist and Bach specialist Angela Hewitt plays them with the requisite majesty, poetry, grace, lightness or gravity.
She opens with the grand "Sinfonia in D major" (an organ work), a fireworks-filled piece, softening with the gentle and poignant "Siciliano in G minor" (written for the flute), then turns grave with the sarabande-like "Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland." The joy in "Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme" is revealed by Ms. Hewitt's sprightly playing, while the drama in the "Passacaglia in C minor" (the longest piece of the set) unfolds with an understated grandeur. The famous "Jesu, joy of man's desiring," with its elegant tempo and looped melody, has not been left out, and neither has Ms. Hewitt's favorite encore, the lovely "Sheep may safely graze."
Although well-known names make up the list of transcribers (Wilhelm Kempff, Myra Hess, Mary Howe, William Walton, Harold Bauer, just to mention a few), Ms. Hewitt herself contributes three of her own transcriptions from the "Orgelbuchlein" to the lot. Her sterling touch is exquisite, her playing translucent, sparkling and meticulously articulate without being petty, grand without being showy. The Steinway piano she plays upon deserves praise as well, with all its 88 deep, rounded tones a joy to listen to.
The seventeen pages of excellent notes (by Ms. Hewitt) offer a wealth of information that educates and amuses. Few album notes are as well-written as these, and with the help of a basic music dictionary, the average listener can only profit greatly from them.
Highly recommended with no reservations whatsoever.