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Reviews: Bach: Keyboard Concertos 2 - Hewitt/ACO

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Reviews: 4

Review by PeterJones January 4, 2006 (1 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Sonically this recording is great...but that's also the problem. A good recording is ultimately only as good as the performance it captures. Hewitt's performance is disturbingly bland. Polite, but no soul and nothing profound. "Politically correct" and "canadian" would be a good way to describe it (I'm an expat so hey chill), but of course, this is just my opinion. I'm a Gould fan. This might appeal to some -- maybe good for background music in an SACD equipped elevator.

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Review by thepilot February 20, 2006 (4 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
I surely disagree with the other reviews. The recordings and performances clearly reflect the small scale of this approach, and if you see the pictures of the stage on the leaflet, you see that we are talking about a very small orchestra indeed. The sound is almost perfect for me (the stereo and the mch mix) and the performances are warm and reflect the dance character of Bach's conception. Highly recommended.

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Review by GrizzledGeezer February 11, 2007 (4 of 4 found this review helpful)
I cannot understand anyone claiming these are bland performances with no soul...

I've been listening to these works for almost four decades, and this is hands down the best set I've heard. They're lively without being rushed, and they DANCE, in a way that no other performance, whatever its merits (and that includes Murray the P), matches. Strongly recommended.

I haven't rated the sonics because my main system is down, and I've listened to this recording only on a Discman.

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Review by jlaurson October 10, 2007 (2 of 2 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Dip Your Ears, No. 39
by jfl | Sunday, July 31, 2005

Bach is like an oasis or refuge… or both – whichever you need. Hearing these keyboard concertos with Angela Hewitt and the Australian Chamber Orchestra from a double-release on the Hyperion label (to be released late this July) reminded me more than anything else in recent months of my belief that classical music (or maybe just Bach) is an inherently superior music, after all. While most of that credit does go to the Old Master himself, I would certainly not hear him so well and the music would not be communicated so well, were it not for the immaculate, energetic, and utterly tasteful playing of Ms. Hewitt.

Playing Bach on a Steinway hardly needs justification anymore, but Angela Hewitt (who also wrote the informative liner notes) provides one of the most elegantly convincing arguments I have yet read:

It is said that if we sat down and copied out all of the music Bach wrote it would take us a lifetime. Yet he was composing it as well. So it is no wonder that from time to time he borrowed from himself. Such is the case with the keyboard concertos. If an original version has not been handed down to us, then there probably was one but it has been lost. Concerto movements also ended up in cantatas, often with florid parts being added to an already busy original. This recycling is one of the arguments I used to defend the performance of Bach on the modern piano. If he could write for the violin, oboe, or voice a singing, melodic line that would have its natural inflections, phrasing, and rise and fall, then why would he not have wanted to hear it on a keyboard instrument that was capable of doing the same thing (since the harpsichord could not)?

The concertos are indeed all either source material for other music or arrangements themselves. If Concerto no. 6 (BWV 1057) isn’t often heard, it must be because of its famous parent, the Brandenburg Concerto no. 5. Keyboard Concerto no. 3 in D major, BWV 1054, formerly known as the A minor violin concerto, BWV 1042, has a similar story to tell. Hewitt unfailingly sparkles throughout, and BWV 1057 making use of the harpsichord continuo alongside the grand piano (neither unique nor common as it were) makes for a particularly interesting and well-judged aural experience. The ACO proves to be a most amiable partner: responsive, flexible, and energetic.

(Going back to my collection, I was surprised to find out that up until now I had had these works [minus BWV 1057] only in two other versions: Trevor Pinnock’s on harpsichord [Archiv] and Glenn Gould’s [Sony]. Perhaps that goes some way in explaining my desire to use phrases such as “utterly tasteful,” “well-judged,” “immaculate,” and “unfailingly this-and-that?”)

This is volume two (the marginally more interesting of the two) of the final Bach offerings of Angela Hewitt on Hyperion, lest she can be convinced to do the works for multiple keyboard also. [Note: She has been -- released on Hyperion recently] It is as wholly recommendable as all previous installments of her solo Bach – which is to say: very much!

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