This is the fifth volume of Angela Hewitt’s cycle of Beethoven’s piano sonatas, and she is recording a full set of Mozart’s concertos too; and yet she is still probably best known for her Bach. So perhaps it’s no surprise that it’s when Beethoven slips into Bach-style fugues in the final movement of Op 110 that Hewitt sounds most masterful. Elsewhere she is incisive and thoughtful too, even if the two earliest works here, Op 2 no 2 and Op 10 no 1, demand a certain lightness of touch that they don’t quite get – the flurries and flourishes sound like collections of notes rather than single, self-propelling gestures. The second movement of Op 78 is a deft dialogue of question and answer, and Hewitt brings an inevitability to Op 110 that makes sense of its changes of direction even if she doesn’t obviously revel in the full extent and novelty of its inspiration.
Canadian pianist Angela Hewitt made her reputation with fine, distinctive recordings of Bach and other Baroque composers, treated pianistically but not anachronistically. Baroque specialists who record Classical and Romantic music, especially that of Beethoven, tend to generate unorthodox results; exhibit A was Hewitt's fellow Canadian Glenn Gould. Hewitt has undertaken her own Beethoven piano sonata cycle, and while her readings are not outrageous like Gould's, they're perhaps part of the same general family.
Angela Hewitt presents a fourth volume in her acclaimed series of Beethoven’s piano sonatas, which has delighted her fans worldwide. The little-known Sonata in B flat major, Op 22, the last of Beethoven’s ‘early’ sonatas, is recorded alongside Op 31 No 3 (sometimes known as ‘La chasse’, or ‘The Hunt’, because of its tumultuous Presto con fuoco finale).
Rameau on the piano? It's not altogether unheard of – there were a handful of classic recordings made by Robert Casadesus back in 1952 – but, despite many recordings of Bach, Handel, and Scarlatti on the piano in the digital age, there's been precious little Rameau on the piano until this Angela Hewitt recording of three complete suites from 2006. By choosing the Suite in E minor from the Pièces de clavecin of 1731 plus the Suites in G minor and A minor from Nouvelles suites de pièces de clavecin, Hewitt has for the most part stayed away from the more evocatively titled works and stuck to the standard stylized Baroque dance forms of the allemande, courante, and gigue. Justly celebrated for her cool and clean Bach recordings, this strategy works well for Hewitt. Without seeming to resort to the sustain or the mute pedal, she floats Rameau's lines and melodies, and without seeming to exaggerate the accents or dynamics, she gives Rameau's rhythms a wonderful sense of lift. In the deliberately evocative movements from the G minor Suite – "La poule," "Les sauvages," and especially "L'egiptienne" – Hewitt seems to bring less to the music – her interpretations are remarkably straight – and to get less out of it – her performances are remarkably bland.