Holly Harris
Winnipeg Free Press, Canada
February 2015

Ottawa-born Angela Hewitt's first all-Liszt solo album is as much further proof of her renowned pianism as it is a personal mission to rebrand the 19th-century Hungarian composer/pianist, whose technically knotty works can often leave the listener cold.

In her candid liner notes, Hewitt recounts first hearing Piano Sonata in B minor as a teenager, describing it at that time as 'awful,' and a meandering 'vehicle for banging the piano.' Fortunately, her then-teacher, Jean-Paul Sevilla, set her straight, leading eventually to her own acclaimed performances of the 1853 work she longed to someday record. This new Hyperion release by one of the world's top Bach players also proves to be an eye-opener of Hewitt's sheer versatility and artistic range.

In one of the CD's two major works, the Sonata in B minor, the musician's keen sense of musical architecture successfully navigates the work's expansive four movements, as well as infusing it with grand nobility. The second significant piece, Après une lecture du Dante—Fantasia quasi Sonata dated 1839 and inspired by Dante's Divine Comedy, is Liszt at his enthralling best. And so, too, is Hewitt, who tosses off the imagistic work's treacherous runs and cascading tritones evoking the burning fires of hell with aplomb before revealing its tender, more paradisiacal self. Also included are Petrarch Sonnets 47, 104 and 123, which unfold as expressive poetry in motion.

Winnipeg Free Press, Canada