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.
Canada's Angela Hewitt would be on anybody's list of the world's great pianists, but she has been known as a Bach specialist. Her cycle of Beethoven's piano sonatas on Hyperion has, to an extent, been what you might expect: technically precise, individualistic, a bit idiosyncratic. What listeners may not have been prepared for is how high the highs are. Here it is absolutely essential to stick around through the whole program. Hewitt's Piano Sonata No. 17 in D minor, Op. 31, No. 2 ("Tempest"), has odd features: violent accents in the outer movements, and a curious de-emphasis of the octave ornament figure that plays such an important structural role in the slow movement.
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).