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Since Bach constantly reworked his own music, it's always been seen as fair game that others should do so too. Angela Hewitt's disc of Bach arrangements thus stands in a noble tradition, as well as carrying it boldly on into the future. But if three of these 17 short pieces are Hewitt's own recompositions, others are welcome discoveries from the near-forgotten past. None of Busoni's majestic arrangements is here, but instead we find fascinating pieces by a plethora of English composers including Lord Berbers, Herbert Howells and William Walton. Hewitt's own liner notes are a mine of information--some of it being comic, much of it highly illuminating--as well as providing a guide to her own keyboard philosophy. And her playing is as superb as we now expect: in D'Albert's version of Bach's stupendous Passacaglia in C Minor, she somehow manages to make the piano sound like a large organ echoing through a church. In other modes she can be plangent, frisky, hesitant or imbued with the most gorgeous cantabile: she seems to have a hotline to the religious fervour Bach wanted to evince. This disc may be built up out of a collection of favourite encores, but in sum it's a feast. --Michael Church
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
The playing is, of course, elegant, musical, even thrilling in places. Some old favorites are here--Dame Myra's 'Jesu, joy of man's desiring,' d'Albert's monumental 'Passacaglia in c minor, BWV 582.' But there are some transcriptions I'd never heard before--Lord Berners's 'In dulci jubilo,' Bauer's scrumptious 'Die Seele ruht in Jesu Händen.' Altogether a worthy program in the lifelike sound Hyperion always seems to provide for its stable of wonderful pianists. Indeed, I can't think of a single criticism I'd want to make.
Most recent customer reviews
This is the recording that truly introduced me to the genius of J. S. Bach and Angela Hewitt. You could say that this is a CD of Bach's Greatest Hits, as many of the selections... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Ann M. Collett
Its OK. This kind of thing is rarely terribly exciting but is nice listening as background music.Word word word wordPublished on Feb. 11 2013 by chas
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