Angela Hewitt – Beethoven: Piano Sonatas Opp. 2/2, 10/1, 78 & 110 (2015) [Hyperion FLAC 24/44,1]

Ludwig van Beethoven – Piano Sonatas Opp. 2/2, 10/1, 78 & 110 – Angela Hewitt (2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 01:16:01 minutes | 479 MB | Genre: Classical
Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: hyperion-records | Digital Booklet | © Hyperion Records
Recorded: January 2014, Jesus-Christus-Kirche, Berlin, Germany

Angela Hewitt has been much praised in her earlier recordings of Beethoven’s piano sonatas—displaying ‘exquisite taste’—and now turns her ‘uncluttered clarity of thought and inspired structural pacing’ to four more works spanning the composer’s career. As ever, Angela’s accompanying notes provide fascinating insights into both the music and her performances.

As with previous instalments in Angela Hewitt’s near-complete Beethoven cycle, this fifth volume, for the most part, offers interpretations characterised by intelligent virtuosity and cultivated artistry. No detail in Op 2 No 2’s Allegro vivace transpires unnoticed. The broken octaves and rapid up beat flourishes couldn’t be clearer, although the movement’s brash undercurrents best reveal themselves when Hewitt points up the development section’s witty motivic repartee. Her elegantly unfolding Scherzo and grazioso Rondo movements (the latter contains just a hint of the ‘traditional’ swan-dive most pianists impose upon the opening measure’s three high E naturals) splits the difference between Pollini’s stylish understatement and Kovacevich’s genial inflections. The Largo appassionato stands out for Hewitt’s superb clarification of Beethoven’s part-writing and her ability to differentiate the composer’s tenuto and staccato markings while consistently maintaining a full-bodied sonority with little help from the sustain pedal—obviously her long experience with Bach is an asset here!
Similar qualities distinguish Hewitt’s eloquently sustained Op 10 No 1 Adagio molto, while her astute (if ever-so-slightly studied) observance of the first movement’s sharp dynamic contrasts and rarely heeded rests illuminates the music’s intense profile. As much as I admire pianists who grab on to the finale’s Prestissimo directive and run away with it (Glenn Gould, for example), Hewitt’s relatively reined-in yet resolutely steady pace allows for shapely fast scales and dynamic shading of the repeated notes. In the little Op 78, Hewitt doesn’t quite catch fire in the opening movement, mainly because she tends to telegraph the subito pianos with small pauses, while the Allegro vivace ambles rather than sprints, and the fast major/minor shifts lack a sense of surprise.

Happily, everything comes together for Hewitt in a most inspired Op 110. It abounds with long-lined breadth, careful dynamic scaling, assiduously worked-out tempo relationships and heartfelt poetry. In particular, the finale’s fugal textures convey uncommon vocal distinction and a sense of air between the notes (thanks, again, to Hewitt’s Bachian expertise). I’d go so far as to say that Hewitt’s Op 110 alone is worth the price of this disc, and easily takes its place alongside great versions by Hess, Arrau, Petri, Hungerford and a curiously underrated EMI release with Awadagin Pratt. –Jed Distler, Gramophone

Tracklist:
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
Piano Sonata in A major Op 2 No 2
1.Allegro vivace[7’23]
2.Largo appassionato[6’51]
3.Scherzo: Allegretto[3’58]
4.Rondo: Grazioso[6’55]

Piano Sonata in C minor Op 10 No 1
5.Allegro molto e con brio[5’45]
6.Adagio molto[8’51]
7.Prestissimo[4’48]

Piano Sonata in F sharp major Op 78
8.Adagio cantabile – Allegro ma non troppo[8’03]
9.Allegro vivace[3’26]

Piano Sonata in A flat major Op 110
10.Moderato cantabile molto espressivo[6’50]
11.Allegro molto[2’22]
12.Adagio ma non troppo – Fuga: Allegro ma non troppo[10’49]


Personnel:

Angela Hewitt, piano

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