SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews
BACH: Fantasia and Fugue in A Minor, BWV 904; Aria Varieta “alla Maniera Italiana,” BWV 989; Sonata in D, BWV 963; Partie in A Major, BWV 832; Suite in F Minor, BWV 823; Adagio in G Major, BWV 968; Fugue in C Major, BWV 953 – Angela Hewitt, p. – Hyperion
Published on June 13, 2006
Hyperion MultiChannel SACD A67499, 67:42 (Distrib. Harmonia mundi) ****:
Angela Hewitt continues to confirm her status among pre-eminent Bach specialists, here presenting us with ten captivating works not often found in standard recitals of the Master. Sviatoslav Richter would occasionally program the Sonata in D, an early five-movement suite that combines toccata procedure with theme and variations; here, a droll imitation of chicken and cuckoo clucks and calls that takes a page from Frescobaldi’s 1624 Capriccio sopra il Cucco. The sound will likely remind some of Britten’s Young Person’s Guide, the Variations on a Theme of Purcell. The opening piece, a Fantasia and Fugue in A Minor from around 1717, has an antique sound, as if in imitation of the French clavecinists and Renaissance polyphony. The 1709 Aria (and ten Variations) in the Italian Manner plays as a forerunner of the Goldberg Variations, as even the aria is repeated at the end, although as a variation, not verbatim. The variations proceed from the harmony, not the melody. Variation VIII reminds me of Rameau at several points. The Partie (or Suite) in A is in the French style and has an Air pour les trompettes, a kind of posthorn tune reminiscent of the Capriccio in E Major, BWV 993.
The Suite in F Minor possesses a lovely Sarabande which makes me wish Edwin Fischer or Artur Rubinstein had recorded it. The spurious Adagio in G Major is a transcription from the violin Sonata in A Minor, likely made by Bach’s son Wilhelm Friedemann. Hewitt ornaments it quite nicely and provides a three-part C Major Fugue to complement its affect. The two chorale-preludes, Jesus, My Assurance and He Who Trusts in God appear in the family notebooks Bach wrote, each a plaintive right melody with two left hand voices. The final Fantasia and Fugue in A Minor (BWV 944) is a study in free, brilliant improvisation. The fugue is a moto perpetuo of punishing filigree with two pedal points to sustain interest, although as written, it comes to a sudden, anti-climactic halt. The entire 2004 recital from Henry Wood Hall, London, is delicately, warmly recorded on the Steinway. While playing the disc straight through may prove somewhat monochromatic, the individual pieces and suites consistently reward the ear – novel and timeless at once.
— Gary Lemco