Bach Concertos on Hyperion

2005-06-18 / Daily Telegraph / Geoffrey Norris

Bach: Keyboard Concertos in D minor BWV1052 and G minor BWV1058; Brandenburg Concerto No 5 BWV1050; Triple Concerto in A minor BWV1044
Hyperion CDA67307, £12.99

Bach: Keyboard Concertos in A major BWV1055, D major BWV1054, E major BWV1053, F minor BWV1056 and F major BWV1057
Angela Hewitt (piano), Australian Chamber Orchestra, dir Richard Tognetti
Hyperion CDA67308, £12.99

These two discs, while available separately, go in tandem as a beguiling example of what can be achieved in performances of Baroque music on the piano when they have been prepared with such thought and are blessed with such compelling artistry as Angela Hewitt’s. Her Bach catalogue for Hyperion is already extensive, and here she joins the outstanding Australian Chamber Orchestra for the six concertos and two other works that spotlight the keyboard, the Fifth Brandenburg Concerto and the A minor Triple Concerto with flute (Alison Mitchell) and violin (Richard Tognetti, who also directs the orchestra).

The performances call on different traditions: Hewitt plays a modern Fazioli grand, the orchestra deploys certain historically aware techniques, to the extent of having a discreet harpsichord in the continuo part. But such is Hewitt’s sensitivity to style, and such is the orchestra’s versatility, that there is no sense of compromise or jarring anachronism. Rather, the two coalesce in interpretations of remarkable synergy and fascinating textures.

The familiar argument that Bach would have written for a piano if only he had had one is nowhere given more persuasive advocacy than in Hewitt’s singing melodic lines, her judicious range of tonal colouring and in her touch, which combines the crispness and full flavour of a fresh apple. Take a bite of any of these concertos, and you will want to make a whole meal of them.