Angela Hewitt

Beethoven: Piano Sonatas Op. 2 No. 1, Op. 14 No. 2, Op. 53 'Waldstein', Op. 54

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Hyperion isn't numbering them anymore, but this is an entry in Canadian pianist Angela Hewitt's ongoing cycle of Beethoven piano sonatas. It's typical of her Beethoven series in several respects. For one thing, she likes to combine one of the big, famous sonatas with lesser-known pieces. For another, she offers highly individualistic interpretations that you may take or leave, but that are likely to connect strongly enough in one or more cases to keep you on board. Here, that case is the finale of the Piano Sonata No. 21 in C major, Op. 53 ("Waldstein"), where Hewitt delivers a fascinatingly anti-heroic performance, a graceful nocturne (octave glissandos and all) instead of a monumental dithyramb. Sample this to see whether you instinctively follow Hewitt's thinking. Her version of the extremely quirky two-movement Piano Sonata No. 22 in F major, Op. 54, with Bachian precision replacing the usual bumptious humor, is also very strong and entirely original. In the early Piano Sonata No. 1 in F minor, Op. 2, No. 1, and Piano Sonata No. 10 in F major, Op. 14, No. 2, Hewitt is again off the beaten track. She holds the piano in its classical framework, but she writes "Try out this movement [the Adagio of Op. 2, No. 1] on a fortepiano to hear how terrifying it can sound," and in a way there is something fortepiano-like about her playing throughout here: she doesn't apply a lot of pedal, and she keeps everything distinct, applying expression mostly in tempo and articulation. Recommended as usual, although the music would have benefited from a more intimate space than Berlin's Jesus-Kristus-Kirche.

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