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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67451/2
Recording details: April 2003
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Ludger Böckenhoff
Engineered by Ludger Böckenhoff
Release date: September 2003
Total duration: 21 minutes 13 seconds

'The standard of excellence Angela Hewitt has set in previous installments in her Hyperion Bach cycle continues unabated with the English Suites' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Once again, Angela Hewitt proves that she's one of the most penetrating interpreters of Bach on the piano, with a superlative account of the six English Suites. She's an astonishingly supple player, elegant in the French dance elements, brilliant in the Italianate flourishes, and fully in control of the works' complex chromaticisms. Another tour de force from this wonderful player' (The Independent)

'Now regarded as one of the most consistently refreshing interpreters of Bach on the modern piano…As ever, Hewitt brings this music to life with remarkably crisp articulation in the brisk contrapuntal movements, deep feeling in the sarabandes and exhilarating joie de vivre in the final gigues' (The Sunday Times)

'I thoroughly enjoy Hewitt's unaffected playing, her easy-going virtuosity, careful dynamics, and frequent grace, as well as power' (Fanfare, USA)

'This is arguably the finest recording of these works on modern piano. Hewitt projects the different characters of individual dances, as well as those of entire suites, with great beauty, clarity and refinement … this might well be the finest set of English Suites on the piano' (Goldberg)

English Suite No 2 in A minor, BWV807

Prelude  [4'09]
Allemande  [4'04]
Courante  [2'15]
Gigue  [3'11]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
With the English Suite No 2 in A minor, BWV807 we enter another world. The angular, no-nonsense subject that opens the Prelude gives birth to a movement with concerto-like proportions, even though it begins like a two-part invention. The middle section, with its repeated-note motive in the lower register, gives us a chance to catch our breath, at least momentarily. The whole of the opening section is then repeated—something which will occur in all the remaining Preludes. The energy level is high, and I am reminded of a passage in Forkel’s biography that describes Bach’s own playing:

In the execution of his own pieces he generally took the time very brisk, but contrived, besides this briskness, to introduce so much variety in his performance that under his hand every piece was, as it were, like a discourse. When he wished to express strong emotions, he did not do it, as many do, by striking the keys with great force, but by melodical and harmonical figures, that is, by the internal resources of the art. In this he certainly felt very justly. How can it be the expression of violent passion when a person so beats on his instrument that, with all the hammering and rattling, you cannot hear any note distinctly, much less distinguish one from another?

After a lyrical Allemande in which the imitative entries are inverted after the first double bar, comes a Courante that is seamless and again unhurried. The dotted rhythms we find in the first suite give way to groups of four slurred quavers in both hands. The Sarabande is noble and eloquent, but not too slow. It is the first one in the set where Bach writes out ‘les agréments’—an ornamented version of the melody. It is not clear whether these should be played on the repeat of the individual sections, or following the complete dance as a true double. In this particular case I have opted for the former, as it seems an appropriate length for the material presented. The first Bourrée, for me, should not begin too loudly, otherwise the spell is broken too suddenly. On the repeat, the dynamic level can be increased. The second Bourrée is a musette in the major key, imitating the drone of a bagpipe. It is the only truly carefree moment in the whole suite. The final Gigue is a tour de force in tarentella style, with trills pushing it upward and forward. Not content with just repeating both sections, Bach adds an extra da capo, and we hear it all for a third time with an ever-increasing sense of drive and brilliance.

from notes by Angela Hewitt © 2003

Other albums featuring this work
'Bach: Angela Hewitt plays Bach' (CDS44421/35)
Bach: Angela Hewitt plays Bach
MP3 £45.00FLAC £45.00ALAC £45.00Buy by post £50.00 CDS44421/35  15CDs Boxed set (at a special price)  
'Bach: The English Suites' (SACDA67451/2)
Bach: The English Suites
This album is not yet available for download SACDA67451/2  2CDs Super-Audio CD — Deleted  
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