Angela Hewitt

Bach: The Well-Tempered Clavier [2008 Recording]

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Acclaimed as one of the most creative and thoughtful performers of J.S. Bach's keyboard music since the innovative performances of her compatriot, Glenn Gould, Canadian pianist Angela Hewitt has certainly matched her usual exquisite playing in this 2008 set of The Well-Tempered Clavier, an anticipated follow-up to the 2007 reissue of her 1997 recordings. Having both sets would be ideal for Hewitt fans, but for listeners who can choose only one, either is an excellent option and sure not to disappoint. While no one should expect vast differences in her interpretations here, which are rich in the variety of tone colors, moods, and nuances, Hewitt's maturing appreciation of Bach is not a radical overhaul, though there are necessarily changes in the particulars of accentuation, phrasing, dynamics, and emphasis due to the passage of time, as well as to the spontaneity of Hewitt's expression and the fluidity of the moment. With a subtle shaping of phrases and a clean sense of line, Hewitt brings across the 48 preludes and fugues with assured technique and generous expression, and sufficient differences of approach to complement her earlier set, but some of her tempos and adjustments seem a trifle exaggerated in these performances, where the earlier recordings seem a bit tighter, neater, and sometimes more focused. Recorded in the Jesus-Christus-Kirche, Berlin, following her world tour of 58 cities in 21 countries, Hewitt's performances are presented on four discs in this trimline box set from Hyperion, and the sound quality is only slightly less vibrant than her first go-round with The Well-Tempered Clavier. Highly recommended.

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