9 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Run of the mill. Definitely not Fischer,
This review is from: Bach: The Well-tempered Clavier (Audio CD)
Hewitt's playing is very good, though never virtuosic, and often tending to blandness, with some unsuccessful tempo bulges, especially in opening bars, and over-meditated rallentandos in closing bars. Compare it with the unruly, compelling spontaneity (albeit flawed*) of Fischer - where nearly every prelude emerges as a brilliant character piece and every fugue a revelation of invention. [Fischer was the first person to record the 48, I think, so none of his decisions result from having studied a back catalogue of rival interpretations - no need to try and produce a newly thought-out, artfully conceived reading, just sit at the piano and get on with it.] I had high hopes for Angela Hewitt's 48, but alas, discovered only that she is an admirable pianist, not a creator of marvels. She often produces an inexorable wash of notes, which, after a while, leaves you not knowing (or even caring) where you are in the proceedings. Not so Fischer! Every moment counts - you never find yourself in the middle of nowhere, but are riveted, gripped, high on the flux of an imagination lighting every phrase, never obtrusive, never pedantic, and only rarely allowing unguarded moments of limelight flamboyancy.
There's no single right way to play Bach - but there are many wrong ways, or at least lesser ways, duller ways. Having heard many recordings of the 48, I can say without doubt, the best is Fischer's. Don't have reservations about the 1930s sound: it's natural enough, woody and not too reverberant, if obviously dated - but preferable to some modern recordings, such as Hewitt's, where the piano can be tiresomely clangourous. To sum up: A reasonable, safe account; buy it if you must. But life is short, and Fischer offers you the chance to reach new heights of understanding, to discover greater depths of feeling, to find beauty that might otherwise elude you.
[* A note on mistakes: They are human. They add colour. It's a shame we inhabit a Pro Tools, clinical, fear-of-reality, editable world today. I love Fischer's fumbles. They endear him to me, and make it so much more telling and actual. Anyway enough said...]
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Initial post: 29 Sep 2014, 15:07:04 BST
Yes, we all make mistakes, but ideally we put them right. Not with clever digital editing but by doing it again and trying even harder to get it right next time. Did Fischer not bother?
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