Bach Concertos on Hyperion

2005-06-05 / The Sunday Times / Hugh Canning

Classical CD of the week:
The Keyboard Concertos Vols 1&2
Angela Hewitt (piano), Australian Chamber Orchestra, cond Richard Tognetti
Hyperion CDA 67307/8

Reeling from the loss of a copyright case, Hyperion now faces legal costs of up to £1m, which will almost certainly affect this outstanding small company’s output. The appearance of these Bach concerto recordings could not be more timely. Over the past decade, the Canadian Angela Hewitt has established herself in the front rank of Bach interpreters on the modern piano, largely thanks to her comprehensive recordings of the solo keyboard works for Hyperion. Here, she tackles the seven solo concertos, adding the Brandenburg Concerto No 5 and the Triple Concerto (keyboard, violin and flute) for good measure. These performances with the ACO are characterised by the same freshness of spirit and clarity of fingerwork that have marked her French and English Suites, her Partitas, and the Preludes and Fugues of The Well-Tempered Clavier.

Hewitt is not afraid to employ expressive cantabile in the slow movements, especially in the concertos better known in their original versions for violin and orchestra. As always, she really sparkles in the allegros, infusing this music with wit as well as technical bravura.