Angela Hewitt and Bach

Pianist Angela Hewitt is one of the few musicians that gets Bach right and her recording of the Two Part Inventions proves it. 

Most performances of Bach are, to be blunt, wrong. They are either too slow or too legato. The legato, as we know it today, did not come into existence until Beethoven. Carl Phillip Emmanuel Bach, writing about his father’s music, said:

“The notes which are neither detached nor slurred nor to be sustained are held down as long as one quarter their value.”

What was called a legato by Bach was simply a slurring of fast note values (as opposed to staccato).

I have always been a huge fan of Angela Hewitt’s Bach interpretations. She plays with very swift, dance-like tempi without sacrificing clarity and detail. Also, she does not try to make Bach a Romantic  composer for the piano. 

While driving home recently I heard her recording of the Bach Inventions and Sinfonia on XM-Sirius Radio. Like any pianist I have played these works since being child. However, this Hewitt recording made me feel like I was hearing them for the first time.  

This recording ends with a performance of the monumental Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue and I have rarely heard it played so intelligently. She plays the subjects and answers in the fugue with remarkable uniformity without once letting go of the tension and excitement. 

If you have not heard this remarkable Bach interpreter I strongly suggest that you start here and then quickly move to her other wonderful recordings. 

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