Beethoven on Hyperion

2006-10-07 / Daily Telegraph / Geoffrey Norris

Beethoven:Piano Sonatas in D major Op 10 No 3, E flat major Op 7 and F minor Op 57(‘Appassionata’)

Angela Hewitt (piano) Hyperion SACDA67518, £12·99

As this impressive new disc shows, it is a mistake to try to pigeon-hole Angela Hewitt.

Recently acclaimed as Artist of the Year by the readers of Gramophone magazine, she has been been – and still is – at the forefront of those pianists who bring insight and imaginative keyboard colouring to Baroque music.

Her discs of Bach and Couperin show how the 17th- and early 18th-century repertoire can be vivified through being played on a piano just as much as on instruments of the day. But she has been no less compelling in Chabrier and Chopin, and here shows her mettle in three Beethoven sonatas.

There is, for example, a palpable depth of feeling in the slow movement of the D major Sonata Op 10 No 3, where Hewitt gives the music true largo breadth, at the same time revealing the overcast sentiments Beethoven must have had in mind when he added the word mesto( “mournful”) to his marking.

Likewise, Hewitt invests the slow movement of the Eflat Sonata Op 7 with the “great expression” Beethoven called for. Elsewhere in these sonatas, the music is enlivened by Hewitt’s rhythmic zest, strength of accent and lucidly animated textures, her Fazioli piano adding brilliance to the timbre.

Capping the recital is a performance of the Appassionata Sonata that conveys the music in all its magnitude, radicalism and ineluctable power.