Angela Hewitt (piano)
Reviewed by: Colin Anderson
Reviewed: January 2002
CD No: HYPERION CDA67309
Angela Hewitt’s credentials as a Bach interpreter are considerable. There’s no shortage of transcriptions of Bach’s 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 man’s 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.
Howe’s sheep brings something more interventionist than Kempff’s ’classical’ arrangements; with more extremity comes more Hewitt relish. Especially successful is Hess’s 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 D’Albert (born in Glasgow) – bring something personal to their task. Bauer’s 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 D’Albert’s transcription of the C minor Passacaglia, here twelve minutes, which has plenty of notes but little variety. Hewitt herself (she’s 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