Bach: Fantasia and Fugue in A minor, Aria Variata, etc.

2004-07-17 / Daily Telegraph / Geoffrey Norris

Here is another out-and-out winner from Angela Hewitt. Admirers will be grieved to know that this is the last planned disc in her anthology of Bach´s keyboard music, but it is an essential addition to the nine earlier ones. Those all concentrated in particular groups of pieces ( The Well-tempered Clavier , the Goldberg Variations , the French Suites, the Partitas and so on), but this one is more of a miscellany.
Not that it is any sense a mopping up of odds and ends. The programme is framed by two substantial but very different Fantasias and Fugues in A minor. In between, the music ranges through such works as the D major Sonata, the Partie (or suite) in A major, the F minor Suite, the Aria variata “in the italian style”, and two chorale preludes, Jesu, meine Zuversicht and Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten.
Hewitt´s instinct in choosing repertoire that shows the rich variety of Bach´s keyboard writing is as sound as the decisions she takes in interpreting this music for the piano. Listen to the catchy final fugue of the D major Sonata – “in imitation of the chicken and cuckoo” – to appreciate how entertaining she can make Bach sound. The hallmark of her playing derives from just such a sharp definition of musical character. Be it light or solemn, her outlook on Bach is consistently enlivening.