Wigmore Hall Lunchtime recital

2003-09-21 / The Sunday Times / Paul Driver

The poetic melancholy of the last nights of the Proms is relieved by the start of the new season at the Wigmore

The first concert I went to after the rather addictive Proms was Angela Hewitt’s lunch-time recital at Wigmore Hall, and it staved off feelings of anticlimax nicely. Actually, that is an understatement: it was a positive sensation. The Canadian pianist is one of the reliably mesmerising musicians of the day. You sit entranced when she performs such works as the Sixth and Fifth French Suites by Bach, though when she got to the latter’s sublime Sarabande, it would have been more accurate to say I was floating just below the ceiling.

She seems to me the complete performer, gifted not only with fingers that imprint each note with a svelte newness and a mind that is not deflected by such precision work from calmly surmising the larger structure, but also with the ability to convey a spiritual seriousness that nonetheless does not exclude an utter charm. To add that her presence has a balletic grace is otiose.

This was a most happy occasion: the start of a new season of BBC live broadcasts from a hall that has just acquired a new, young artistic director — Paul Kildea — and a sellout to boot. Hewitt used the sort of bright-toned Fazioli instrument she prefers and filled her baroque hour not only with Bach at the beginning and end, but with Couperin’s Ordre No 27 in B Minor, a Scarlatti sonata also in B minor (Kk 87), and one in G (Kk 13), the key of the French Suite (No 5) that followed. Thus she made the concert an original tonal adventure as well as a rapturous exploration of piano tone.