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on 17 August 2001
This collection of Bach 'arrangements' makes a fascinating addition to Angela Hewitt's excellent ongoing series of Bach recordings for Hyperion. Perhaps the most noteworthy feature of the disc is that Hewitt avoids the well-known transcriptions by Busoni and opts, alongside transcriptions by Wilhelm Kempff and Myra Hess, for less frequently heard pieces. Kempff's transcriptions have of course been made famous by his own stunning recording for DG (recently reissued!). They are gems of their kind and Hewitt gives lovely performances of five of them here - including the chorale preludes 'Ich ruf zu Dir', 'Wachet auf' ('Sleepers' wake') and the haunting G minor Siciliano. Alongside Myra Hess's famous arrangement of 'Jesu, joy of man's desiring' other highlights of the disc are Mary Howe's 'Sheep may safely graze' and Lord Berner's 'In dulci jubilo'. The disc also contains three transcriptions by Hewitt herself, who imparts to them a wonderful and tender reflective quality. Hewitt's own beautiful and simple version of 'Wenn wir in hoechsten Noeten sein' (from the Orgelbuechlein) was for me the most exquisite piece of playing on the recording. An important feature of the disc is that Hewitt - whose Bach recordings are of an exemplary purity - plays the pieces as transcriptions and as products of the time when the works were transcribed, not afraid to invest them with a pianistic flourish or a romantic gesture when appropriate. All of which makes for a rewarding release: possibly the best Bach piano transcription recording since Kempff himself?
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on 7 January 2013
Angela Hewitt is a inspiring exponent of Bach. I was particularly thrilled to hear the great Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor a favourite piece which I have never heard on the piano. I was not disappointed.
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on 21 June 2004
Other reviewers have already praised this CD for technical excellence but it's worth emphasizing that – in the best sense – this is music for everyone. You don't need any knowledge of the original works to enjoy these transcriptions, which are often vastly different in tone and vigour but still retain their essences of reflection and spiritual uplift. I received it as a surprise gift and was won over by the first track. If you are an expert listener you won't be disappointed by the quality and Ms. Hewitt's sleeve notes are superb. Having compared a few tracks back-to-back vs. the Deutsche Grammophon Orgelwerke CDs I suspect that even the most austere Bach followers will find some of the changes stimulating - for example, releasing the Passacaglia (track 16) from slow pedal work on the organ. If you like Bach in any way you won't regret adding this to your CD collection.
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on 22 February 2006
Amassing now over a dozen CD's in her Bach cycle, Angela Hewitt puts her focus on several famous - and some not-so-famous - piano transcriptions of Bach. The overall flavor and tone of this set is a little different than her other Bach recordings. Not present in this music are the lively dance rhythms of the French courante, menuet or bourree found in the Suites or Partitas - or even much of the intellectual fugues from the "Well-Tempered Clavier" and others. Rather, there is a more introspective, gentle and often tangibly spiritual essence to the selections on this CD - largely due to many being transciptions from choral and church cantatas. In many of the more familiar pieces, there is a comforting and assuring atmosphere that Miss Hewitt communicate most sensitively - which when reading the German translation of the original works in the liner notes, would seem to be the intent of the Lutheran Kappelmeister Bach.
In her most-informative notes, Hewitt points out how "the ability to translate spirituality into sound at the keyboard is of certainly important to avoid famous tunes sounding banal or hacknayed." Her versions of the famous "Jesu" and "Sheep may safely graze" (as well as her own three lovely transcriptions) do seem to succeed in conveying a spiritual core to avoid sounding trite. In the great Bach pastoral work ("Sheep may graze"), she convincingly summons the highly endearing and nurturing quality that D. Myra Hess exuded in her piano transcription which was played frequently over the radio during the great war to comfort many a troups and families in hardship. Maybe in a couple pieces Ms. Hewitt draws out the tempo a bit, but I found this gave the piece a more introspective tone that I appreciated later upon further listening. Other works on a more grand scale (like the Passacaglia for organ) reveal Bach as a daunting church composer and sound reasonably authoritive on Hewitt's piano. Her best pieces here may be also her most personally involved ones - her own three transcriptions - which embody a most moving, introspective and heartwarming quality. I think these are a humble highlight of the set.
The Hyperion sound is clear and full bodied while the substantial CD notes offer valuable history of the transciptions and Ms. Hewitt's perspectives on how she approached them. Significant coverage is given to the past legends of the piano like Kempff, Hess, Howells, d'Albert that will be appreciated especially by pianists. In short, a unique, spiritual and lovely set of recordings in Angela Hewitt's ever-growing quiver of Bach recordings.
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on 7 December 2014
I'm glad to hold in my hands such an extremely well played collection of Bach choral preludes. If you compare them with the original versions they sound sometimes even better.
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on 20 April 2016
These arrangements of Bach Chorals are beautifully played by Canadian pianist Angela Hewitt. The recording quality is outstanding. Ordering and delivery were easy and prompt.
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on 13 January 2015
I wanted Bach Cantatas but couldn't find them on your list.
Angela Hewitt' s Bach arrangements are good, but if you had her playing the Cantatas, I'd be very happy.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 13 September 2007
There are always two kinds of pianists in this world. The ones, prodigiously talented, praised by critics and satisfied with themselves, never question what they are doing, therefore stuck in one place without ever reaching depth of music making which can stand test of time. (Kissin, Ashkenazy, Argerich etc)

The others who keep asking questions and aspire to reach higher realm of music making, trying to capture fleeting moment of the divine. (Richter, Rubinstein, Pogorelich, Volodos etc)

To me Hewitt belongs to the former. The elegance, fluency and subtlety of her playing are admirable enough, but that's all there is. Her recordings and her live performances Bach give me the impression that she is just content scratching surface of the music despite her refined style. Pretty playing but not for me.
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