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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67607/8
Recording details: February 2005
Verbrugghen Hall, Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Australia
Produced by Ludger Böckenhoff
Engineered by Ludger Böckenhoff
Release date: June 2005
Total duration: 22 minutes 44 seconds

'Her playing is absolutely captivating: she decorates the solo part with playful, come-hither ornamentation—twirls, flutters, arabesques—and yet it never disturbs the clear, logical path she forges through the course of each work. Her staccato touch has the force of sprung steel and yet her legato line is a miracle of smoothness and transparency. An absolute joy' (Gramophone)

'Hewitt's Bach is well-known for its expressive restraint, lucid textures and rhythmic grace. These virtues are abundantly present in her thoughtful, unmannered approach to the Concertos. Contrapuntal arguments are admirably clear and Hewitt's restricted use of the sustaining pedal ensure a pleasing clarity of dialogue. These virtues are mirrored by the lightly articulated bowing of the strings of the Australian Chamber Orchestra under the direction of its leader Richard Tognetti … my own prefernce lies just with Hewitt and her Australian musicians' (BBC Music Magazine)

'These two discs, while available separately, go in tandem as a beguiling example of what can be achieved in performances of Baroque music on the piano when they have been prepared with such thought and are blessed with such compelling artistry as Angela Hewitt's. Her Bach catalogue for Hyperion is already extensive, and here she joins the outstanding Australian Chamber Orchestra for the six concertos and two other works that spotlight the keyboard, the Fifth Brandenburg Concerto and the A minor Triple Concerto with flute (Alison Mitchell) and violin (Richard Tognetti, who also directs the orchestra). The performances call on different traditions: Hewitt plays a modern Fazioli grand, the orchestra deploys certain historically aware techniques, to the extent of having a discreet harpsichord in the continuo part. But such is Hewitt's sensitivity to style, and such is the orchestra's versatility, that there is no sense of compromise or jarring anachronism. Rather, the two coalesce in interpretations of remarkable synergy and fascinating textures. The familiar argument that Bach would have written for a piano if only he had had one is nowhere given more persuasive advocacy than in Hewitt's singing melodic lines, her judicious range of tonal colouring and in her touch, which combines the crispness and full flavour of a fresh apple. Take a bite of any of these concertos, and you will want to make a whole meal of them' (The Daily Telegraph)

'Her fingers dance as well as sing: in the outer movements, rhythms are buoyantly sprung, and this communicates itself to the members of the Australian Chamber Orchestra, whose slender string accompaniment in no way lessens their energy, while Hewitt responds by projecting the piano parts with all due attention to Bach's overall texture' (International Record Review)

'Here the Fazioli is heard at its exquisite best, its spongey bass chords pumping with clarity, its treble caressing a heart-tuggingly beautiful legato out of the slow movement, while the dainty strings sketch an almost tongue-in-cheek pizzicato in the background. Hewitt's sense of phrase is masterful … the statements have regal import under the authoritative hands of this queen of keyboard playing' (The Times)

'As always, she really sparkles in the allegros, infusing the music with wit as well as technical bravura' (The Sunday Times)

'The result of their historically informed modern-instrument take on the music is stunning, with crisp rhythms and singing melodic lines' (Classic FM Magazine)

'Hewitt's performances are brilliantly alive. Her subtle lyricism adds a rich, occasionally dark dimension, possibly not as Bach himself would have envisaged, but always with a deep sense of musical integrity' (The Scotsman)

'These are warmly involving interpretations of pioneering pieces' (HMV Choice)

'Her [Hewitt's] success comes from the shaping of each concerto, these are rhythmical, warm interpretations shimmering with boundless energy and skilled virtuosity' (Cathedral Music)

'Her playing is absolutely captivating: she decorates the solo part with playful, come-hither ornamentation—twirls, flutters, arabesques—and yet it never disturbs the clear, logical path she forges through the course of each work. Her staccato touch has the force of sprung steel and yet her legato line is a miracle of smoothness and transparency. An absolute joy' (Metro)

Keyboard Concerto No 1 in D minor, BWV1052
composer

Allegro  [7'37]
Adagio  [7'17]
Allegro  [7'50]

Other recordings available for download
Matthew Halls (harpsichord), Retrospect Ensemble
Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Concerto No 1 in D minor, BWV1052 is the most famous and powerful of the seven concertos. Here the original version is without doubt a lost violin concerto as so much of the solo writing is characteristic of that instrument (especially in the use of bariolage, the name given to passages which rotate around a single note on an open string). To this day there is discussion among musicologists as to whether the original concerto was actually written by Bach or by somebody else. I cannot think of another composer who could even come close to rivalling the amazing intensity and scope of this piece, not to mention the dramatic and emotional impact it creates.

Certainly the opening tutti, with its unison writing, announces something special, and very different from the other keyboard concertos. This theme reappears throughout, separating the different excursions of the soloist. The most dramatic part of the movement is where the keyboard has a brief moment on its own, taking off over a long sustained pedal note in the bass. The Adagio also begins with a unison tutti – this time a ground bass which is present in every bar, modulating to different keys and sometimes fragmented. The soloist is given an impassioned aria, and engages in dialogue with the violins and violas. The whole is totally reminiscent of Passion music. The third movement is the most brilliant finale of the concertos, not letting up for a moment, and demands the utmost in rhythmic precision and virtuosity.

The first two movements of this concerto appear in the Cantata BWV146, Wir müssen durch viel Trübsal in das Reich Gottes eingehen (‘We must pass through much tribulation to enter God’s kingdom’). Both movements give the solo part to the organ in a slightly less developed form. Amazingly, in what seems like an already very elaborate slow movement, Bach adds a four-part chorus above the keyboard part. The third movement appears as the Sinfonia to Cantata BWV188, Ich habe meine Zuversicht (‘I have my trust in God’). Both of these works were written between 1726 and 1728, so probably pre-date the keyboard concerto. The popularity of this work dates back to Mendelssohn’s performance of it in Leipzig in 1837, and the subsequent publication of the score.

from notes by Angela Hewitt © 2005


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