2005-04-06 / Deseret News / Edward Reichel
Hewitt’s recital well worth wait
ANGELA HEWITT, Libby Gardner Concert Hall, University of Utah, Monday.
Despite having to cancel her Salt Lake recital last week because of illness, pianist Angela Hewitt managed to fit it into her busy schedule this week. She appeared in Libby Gardner Concert Hall Monday.
The large Salt Lake audience didn’t mind waiting a few extra days to hear Hewitt play. They responded enthusiastically to her predominantly baroque program.
Hewitt is unquestionably today’s leading interpreter of baroque music, especially that of J.S. Bach. She recently finished an 11-year project recording all of his keyboard works, and she frequently programs baroque music on her recitals.
Monday’s program indulged in French or French-inspired music. The first half was dedicated to Bach — the Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue, BWV 903, and the French Overture, BWV 831. The second half featured François Couperin’s Treisieme Ordre and Maurice Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin.” Hewitt will play the same program in Carnegie Hall Thursday.
Some purists might think it’s inappropriate to play baroque music on a modern grand piano. However, Hewitt utilizes the instrument’s dynamic and expressive capabilities to such a refined degree that the music sounds as if it were intended for a concert grand. Subtle shadings in dynamics, discreet pedaling and a delightfully understated manner of delivery make Hewitt’s interpretations organic and visceral.
Self-assured technique and stunning musicality are present in her playing in equal degrees. And whether it’s Couperin or Ravel, her intelligent and perceptive readings offer new and deeper insight into the music.
The two pieces by Bach that opened her recital are among the composer’s notable masterpieces for the keyboard. In the Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue, Hewitt captured the opening fantasy’s somber and weighty tone with her bold gestures, while in the ensuing fugue she brought a feeling of reflection that was tempered with an intensity that gave the music definition.
Unlike the Chromatic Fantasy, which doesn’t exhibit any French influences, Bach’s French Overture owes much to French composers in terms of style and expression. A suite of six dances preceded by an overture, BWV 831 is a delightfully melodic work that nevertheless has its darker side. And Hewitt captured the music’s intensity and drama with her discerning interpretation.
Couperin’s keyboard music is seldom, if ever, performed today. However, it has an appealing directness and charm that is irresistible. His Treisieme Ordre (Thirteenth Suite) is filled with sophistication and grace that Hewitt brought out with her eloquent performance.
Ravel’s “Tombeau” rounded out her program. She superbly captured the lyricism and elegance of the melodies and the voluptuousness of the harmonic language.
Another Ravel piece served as an encore — the “Pavane pour une infante defunte” — which Hewitt played with exquisite expressiveness.”