CD No: HYPERION CDA67309 Duration: Reviewed: January 2002
Angela Hewitt - Bach Arrangements
Reviewed by Colin Anderson
Angela Hewitts credentials as a Bach interpreter are considerable. Theres no shortage of transcriptions of Bachs music, usually for piano or orchestra (although he works pretty well on a Steel Band!), nor any shortage of recordings of them.
This CD consists of seventeen pieces including Sheep may safely graze and Jesu, joy of mans desiring, made by Mary Howe and Myra Hess respectively. Wilhelm Kempff is represented by five transcriptions, including Wachet auf. This Kempff group, not surprisingly, offers arrangements of tact and discretion; they also prompt one to think that Hewitt is slightly too respectful in her playing but perhaps her third party approach is the best solution.
Howes sheep brings something more interventionist than Kempffs classical arrangements; with more extremity comes more Hewitt relish. Especially successful is Hesss transcription of Jesu, which is wonderfully spacious and deeply felt. The British contingent of arrangers Walton, Ireland, Howells, Lord Berners, Harriet Cohen, Harold Bauer and even the Germany-adopted Eugen DAlbert (born in Glasgow) bring something personal to their task. Bauers of Die Seele ruht in Jesu Handen is more overtly emotional, with some additional and memorable scrunchy harmony. (Mary Howe was American incidentally.)
All the selections are short pieces, except for Eugen DAlberts transcription of the C minor Passacaglia, here twelve minutes, which has plenty of notes but little variety.
Hewitt herself (shes Canadian) has arranged three pieces of the Orgelbuchlein; like Kempff, she respects the original and eases the music to the piano, bringing it to life devotedly.
Recorded in April 2000, the recorded sound is full and focussed; to complete a splendid package, Hewitt has written a long and detailed booklet note