Bach : Fantasia Inventions, Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue CD
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Fantaisie en ut mineur, BWV906 - 15 Inventions à 2 voix, BWV772 à BWV786 - 15 Sinfonias à 3 voix, BWV787 à BWV801 - Fantaisie Chromatique & Fugue, BWV 903 / Angela Hewitt, piano
GRAMOPHONE EDITOR'S CHOICE 'As close to how I would choose to hear [the music] as I have yet had the pleasure of doing' --Gramophone
'Performances of exemplary clarity and craftsmanship' --CDReview
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I'm not sure if it is Bach's skillful writing or Miss Hewitt's skillful and varied expressive playing, but these so-called "piano excercises" sound anything but that. Likely, it is both of the above factors. It was in this first recording that Hewitt showed the music world her ever-so delicate, poised and artistic pianistic mannerisms, transforming these student pieces into delightful little concerts in themselves. As such, her readings here are worthy role models for students focusing on the long, clear, lyrical line that is essential to Bach's music. But what she most brings to this music is her subtle and enticing rubato and dynamic shading and artistic variety in tone that creates more of an unfolding story within the music than a mere "finger dexterity exercise." Gramophone recognized this sensitive musical aspect too and gave this CD a solid recommendation.
But the "appetizer" and "dessert" of this menu are the virtuostic Fantasias which open and close the program. Both show Bach as master of the extemporaneous "Style Fantasticus" most likely gleaned in his youth from his visit to hear the great organist, Buxtahude. Even in Bach's day supposedly, the great Chromatic Fanasia in D-minor was among his most popular piece as it is today. Both are hugely entertaining, daunting works played to perfection by Hewitt. As noted by Gramophone, "her readings of the fantasias are as eloquent and stimulating as any yet recorded by a harpsichordist." Also in support of the pianist is a fine recording ambiance by Hyperion that is hard to fault in any way. Its rather ironic that this first CD of Hewitt's Bach recordings was the last of her entire discography I acquired. But even after hearing all her glorious performances of Bach's music - from the WTC and Goldbergs to the Toccatas, Suites and Keyboard Concertos - hearing these earlist and more simple pieces still brings great refreshment and satisfaction that is so common in Bach's music - and so common too in Angela Hewitt's masterful and colorful playing of them. Compositions - 4.5 stars, Peformance - 5 stars, Sound - 5 stars.
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