Schumann Kinderszenen, Davidsbündlertänze, Sonata Op. 22

2010-11-21 / San Francisco Chronicle / Joshua Kosman

The English pianist Angela Hewitt is best known as a Bach interpreter, but I find her approach to Schumann’s keyboard music even more dynamic and illuminating. In this collection of three early works, Hewitt musters a wonderful blend of pictorial clarity and muted energy to produce performances that are dramatically urgent without ever sounding clangorous or insistent. The opening Kinderszenen” is all pastel colors and gentle phrasing, but there’s a solid structural framework underlying the performance that gives it extra heft. For the kaleidoscopic set of character pieces that make up the “Davidsbündlertänze,” Hewitt turns in a resourceful and versatile performance, turning dreamy or resolute as the material demands. And for the Piano Sonata No. 2, she puts on her Beethoven face, playing with craggy intensity while still imparting a Romantic glaze to the proceedings. Throughout, Hewitt matches instrumental virtuosity with simple, direct eloquence for splendid results.”