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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67451/2
Recording details: August 2002
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Ludger Böckenhoff
Engineered by Ludger Böckenhoff
Release date: September 2003
Total duration: 22 minutes 16 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 3 in G minor, BWV808

Prelude  [3'14]
Allemande  [4'12]
Courante  [2'53]
Gavotte I and II  [3'31]
Gigue  [2'47]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The Prelude of the English Suite No 3 in G minor, BWV808 is a perfect example of how Bach could construct a solo keyboard piece using a Vivaldi concerto grosso as a model. Ritornello passages imitating the full orchestra alternate with solo episodes that are lighter and more transparent. The first and third of these use similar material giving the movement a symmetrical construction. The crescendo of the first six bars is a built-in one with Bach piling up the parts (this becomes even more effective on the piano). The return to the repeat of the opening section is ingenious. There is no pause or clear re-commencement, but rather a bridge passage where the opening three notes begin to appear low down, moving upwards until they finally come to the right spot and we find ourselves in familiar territory. The swinging rhythm of the movement should be brought out, especially since in one of the earliest copies it was written in double measures (that is, with the stress only on every second bar, as though it were in 6/8 rather than 3/8).

The theme of the Allemande appears for the first time, rather unusually, in the bass. Taken up by the right hand, it is then swapped back and forth between the hands. After the double bar it is inverted, but then returns to its original form before the end. Bach flaunted his disregard for the rules and wrote a pair of consecutive octaves going into bar 11 that must have shocked his students! The Courante is rhythmically complex, with one passage in the first section sounding as though we are suddenly in 4/4 time rather than 3/2. The Sarabande is truly magical and must be one of his most inspired examples of this dance. The pedal point at the beginning lasts a full seven bars, and requires some repetition of the low G if it is to continue sounding. There are swift changes of key, and enharmonic progressions over a second pedal point that add to its beauty. As in the second suite, Bach gives us fully written-out ‘agréments’ which this time I like to play after a full, repeated version of the original dance. That way it somehow seems like a distant ‘echo’ of what has come before, yet even more wondrous and expressive.

The two Gavottes are well known—probably the best known movements in all the English suites. The first makes you think of Rameau’s famous Tambourin with the insistent, drum-like repeated Gs in the bass. The second is a musette in the major key which has a tender, almost lullaby-ish character. It is always preferable, I think, to play the pair of galanteries at the same speed, so this second gavotte prevents you from taking the first one too fast. The Gigue is in fact a three-part fugue of great difficulty which needs clarity, precision, and a sense of line to be effective. This is definitely one movement in which the constant ‘hammering and rattling’ that Forkel talks about can be most distressing!

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)  
'A Matthay Miscellany – Rare and unissued recordings by Tobias Matthay and his pupils' (APR6014)
A Matthay Miscellany – Rare and unissued recordings by Tobias Matthay and his pupils
MP3 £7.99FLAC £7.99ALAC £7.99 APR6014  for the price of 1 — Download only  
'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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