A casual look at this album might suggest a gauzy crossover program of Romantic melodies, but that is actually not what pianist Angela Hewitt is up to here. The genre of song transcriptions for piano was a common one a century ago, and the variety of composers and arrangers here suggests how often such works might turn up on a recital program. Hewitt sets herself the task of exploring this repertory, and she succeeds in demonstrating its breadth while at the same time unifying the program with the love song theme. There are a few well-known items, like the opening Liszt rendering of Schumann's Liebeslied - 'Widmung," S566, but also some decidedly unexpected personnel like Max Reger, whose four arrangements of Strauss songs have the detail of Reger's more chromatic works. Pianists Walter Gieseking and Wilhelm Kempff, from close to the modern era, are represented. Of course, arrangements of this kind wouldn't have been presented back to back in recital like this, but Hewitt's program is logically organized, moving from Schubert and Schumann outward into such novelties as Hewitt's own arrangement of the Adagietto from Mahler's Symphony No. 5 (arguably not a love song, but quite beautiful), and ending up with Grainger and the Irish Tune from County Derry, otherwise known as Danny Boy. Certainly, this is a successful crossover program filled with beautiful melodies if that's what one is looking for, but it's also of interest to students of pianism.
Love Songs Review
by James Manheim
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