2010-09-01 / International Piano / Julian Haylock
Beethoven Piano Sonatas
Op. 10, No. 2; Op. 26, Op. 27 No. 2; Op. 90
Hyperion Records CDA 67797
Angela Hewitt’s Beethoven is like no one else’s. With leading voices always clearly delineated and the emphasis firmly on contrapuntal interplay, supporting lines feel less like accompaniment in the traditional Classical sense and more like a vital part of a neo-Baroque web of polyphonic intrigue. One can imagine Schenkerian analysts nodding their head in excited approval at the way Hewitt reveals Beethoven’s long-term harmonic strategies. This is not to imply that her playing is in any way reined in, more a matter of how she focuses her musical energies, as witness the exhilarating final bars of op.26’s scherzo, during which the accompanying semiquavers retain absolute composure rather than becoming an aerobic workout for the left hand. Listen also to how she subtly weights the moto perpetuo finale of the same sonata, ensuring that its etude-like figurations never stultify and that the right hand’s downward scalic flourishes are experienced as foreground elaborations over a sounded/implied bass pedal.
The sense of Beethoven’s music unfolding against a series of harmonic peaks and troughs is at its most poignant in the two-movement E minor Sonata op. 90. Not since Hans Richter-Haaser’s unsurpassed 1960s account for EMI (originally coupled to the “Hammerklavier” and still, as far as I’m aware, awaiting issue on CD) has the tantalising compression of this priceless, iridescent gem been so exquisitely revealed. The rip-roaring finale of the “Moonlight” encapsulates the textural and dynamic subtleties with which this disc abounds, not least the way Hewitt tames those cascading arpeggios to allow Beethoven’s stabbing sforzandos their full shock-value.