Angela Hewitt

Partita in B flat, BWV825
Sonatas – in D minor [Kk9] & D [Kk29]
Partita in D, BWV828

Angela Hewitt (piano)

Reviewed by: Kenneth Carter

Reviewed: 3 September, 2007
Venue: Cadogan Hall, London

J. S. Bach’s Partitas are often referred to as a collection of dance movements – and are Bach’s first published works, apparently. Should we expect them to be danced to?

Angela Hewitt played these movements – gavottes, airs, gigues, sarabandes – lightly. Her dancers were evidently fast on their feet – with nimble steps, a little too speedily to be quite elegant. Hewitt’s style is lightweight and animated. Her playing is a model of dispassionate articulation. Nothing is taken heavily. Nothing is taken seriously – except the responsibility of playing according to current understanding of the salient features of 18th-century style. She plays with speed but not hurry, forward movement without urgency and refinement without sensitivity. She incorporates ornaments – lively, accomplished and dextrous – seamlessly into the general texture of the music. The music passes by, pleasingly enough – professionally. In Hewitt’s hands, these Partitas were undemanding to listen to, exacting to perform.

The Domenico Scarlatti sonatas had a slightly different character. Hewitt gave them a little more weight and silkier tonal blend – she was slightly more sombre, too, in the D minor piece. Emotions were held well at bay though; she continued to impel forward – brisk, limpid and undifferentiated. This playing style was a world away from the rugged declamations of Demidenko – who is gripping however ‘inauthentic’.

Hewitt’s encore was Gluck’s Dance of the Blessed Spirits in Wilhelm Kempff’s transcription. I was entranced. Her playing was delicate, sensitive, rapt and ethereal. It made my afternoon.

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