Angela Hewitt review – intimate and introspective Bach

Wigmore Hall, London/BBC Radio 3
The pianist brought sinewy power and energy to a solo all-Bach programme that ended not with a flourish but quiet reflection

Although more concerts at Wigmore Hall are planned for September, Angela Hewitt gave the penultimate recital in the current lunchtime series at the London venue. If programmes have generally been a bit too conservative, no one could blame Hewitt for devoting hers entirely to Bach, whose music has been the thread through so many of her Wigmore appearances over the last 35 years.

At first sight the programme she had devised seemed rather bitty, without a single really substantial work; there was no partita or complete suite, either English or French. But the sequence – played seamlessly, without any interventions from the Radio 3 announcer, or any encore – was anchored by two hefty enough pieces: the C minor Toccata, BWV 911, and the Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue in D minor, BWV 903.

These days, Hewitt usually gives her recitals on a Fazioli piano, but here she stuck to the Wigmore’s own Steinway, which perhaps gave her performances a bit more muscularity and distinctive character than usual. There was a sinewy power to the fugue that ends the C minor Toccata and sinuous insistence about the one that follows the Chromatic Fantasy, while the explosion of crisply articulated energy in the Prelude from the sixth English Suite was as joyous as the Sarabande from the fifth French Suite was intimate and introspective. And Hewitt chose to end not with a flourish, but with her own transcription of the chorale prelude Alle Menschen müssen sterben, another moment of quiet reflection.

• Available on BBC Sounds and the Wigmore Hall YouTube channel. The Wigmore Hall lunchtime series continues on Radio 3 until 26 June.

Contributor

Andrew Clements

The GuardianTramp

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