JS Bach: Partita No. 4 in D, BWV828; Italian Concerto in F, BWV971; Chromatic Fantasy & Fugue in D minor, BWV903; plus lecture ‘Bach Performance on the Piano’

COMPOSERS: JS Bach
LABELS: Hyperion
ALBUM TITLE: JS Bach
WORKS: Partita No. 4 in D, BWV828; Italian Concerto in F, BWV971; Chromatic Fantasy & Fugue in D minor, BWV903; plus lecture ‘Bach Performance on the Piano’

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PERFORMER: Angela Hewitt (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: DVDA 68001
Here we are presented with a lengthy lecture, and a recital. Paradoxically you probably learn more watching the recital (Hewitt’s infallible finger control is mesmerising) than you do from the lecture which is full of sound common sense but filmed in a style that crosses the Queen’s Christmas Message with Delia Smith’s ‘How to Boil an Egg’. Indeed the lecture’s seven chapters flow with the inexorable charisma of a linguaphone course. You have to really want to learn to persevere with the studied self-consciousness, but there are rewards. If much of what Hewitt reveals is somewhat basic, she’s very persuasive on the dance element, has good advice regarding tempos. Touching is her assertion that ‘Bach fathered 23 children so he must have had warmth of heart’; we shall be evaluating the Borgia Popes more sympathetically from now on! The recital, though, is a joy. Hewitt’s Bach is founded on taking from the harpsichordists what suits her purposes while revelling in the expressive, sometimes Romantic possibilities of the piano. She is so in command of the music, not just technically but intellectually. If the Partita and Chromatic Fantasy lend beefy bookends, the Italian Concerto energises, charms, twinkles, and sings.