Beethoven: Piano Sonatas Op.22, Op. 31, No. 3, Op. 101 — Angela Hewitt, piano

by Anthony Kershaw on February 23, 2014 · 1 comment

in Classical Recordings

This is Angela Hewitt’s fourth CD in her Hyperion series of Beethoven Sonatas. I did not get a chance to hear the first three. I did listen to her recent Faure and Debussy discs. I was not impressed.

Hewitt is a Canadian pianist based in London. I’ve followed Hewitt’s career for many years. Almost since she graduated from the University of Ottawa from the class of the late, great Jean-Claude Sevilla.

For the longest time she was pigeonholed as a Bach specialist, and damn fine one she was (is). I’ve been a great admirer of her Bach playing since her debut on DGG many years ago. But, with other repertoire, she lost me along the way. Her technique is fine, but I found it served more rhapsodic music poorly.

So, what a lovely surprise that the lady can play Beethoven. Beautifully. Hewitt chooses three of her favourite Beethoven Sonatas, the early Op. 22, Op. 31, No. 3 from his middle period and the later Op. 101. LIke many of her recordings, this one is sourced from the Jesus Christ Church in Berlin. I remember the church being very large, but her Fazioli piano is captured in the lovely acoustic with the right amount of attack and decay.

Hewitt brings the most delicate touch to Beethoven’s slow movements — no matter the emotional depth, Hewitt manages to plumb the bottom. It’s not that they’re dark, they have weight and emotional strength.

The faster movements are all within Hewitt’s technique. It’s filigree when needed and thunderingly powerful when Beethoven whips things up. The result is three musical gems.

I’ll try and hear the previous three volumes and look forward to receiving the fifth for review.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Andy Fawcett 04.23.14 at 5:42 am

Got hold of the first disc in this series when it came out (2010). My reaction was similar to yours; only familiar with the delicate finesse of her Bach, it was quite a shock to hear the physicality with which she attacked the Moonlight’s Presto Agitato. Fabulous sound, too, though the recording was made in Italy rather than Berlin. Her first Mozart disc (Piano Concertos 6/8/9, Hyperion CDA67840, 2011) was, more predictably, a corker!

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