A Decade in the Recording Studio with Beethoven

With its passionate swings from relentless rhythms to suspended time, Beethoven's music receives the profound clarity that characterizes Angela Hewitt's approach to the piano. Volume 7 of her ten-year recording project of the complete sonatas is WCRB's CD of the Week.

Angela Hewitt thrives on big plans. The core of her musical personality stems from her complete immersion in Bach. Her dad was a cathedral organist in Ottawa and made Bach a dancing and loving presence in the family. She absorbed it all, and now as she turns 60, Angela Hewitt has no problem being famous above all other things for her relationship with Bach's music. She is hailed around the world for the insight and beauty of her performances.

But it has never been only Bach. Hewitt has commissioned piano concertos and solo pieces, and she's recorded a mind-boggling number of CDs for the British record label Hyperion with major works by Chopin, Schumann, Messiaen, Liszt, Ravel, and a lot more. Beethoven has figured into her passion for big plans; over the last decade she has been busy recording all 32 of his piano sonatas. While scaling that hallowed mountain would be, for many pianists, enough for a lifetime, she has arranged her musical world to allow for deeply concentrated sessions in Beethoven's world while she runs a festival and tours incessantly.

June 1st marked the arrival of Volume 7. It begins with the "Tempest" sonata's unsettling and relentless rhythmic drive, and it closes with one of the world's most touching treasures, the 30th sonata. Hewitt can unleash sound with a direct and unyielding effect. Her ability to hold onto a pulse in those passages where Beethoven's lyricism is in danger of disintegrating gives her performances an intimacy and, at the same time, an architectural view from above. It keeps the narrative compelling. Worth mentioning are her own liner notes, which are written in a way that gives the listener a sense of what it would be like to have these pieces under their own hands. She records on an exquisite, hand-made Fazioli piano from Italy.

Listen to a sampler for the album:

For more information and to purchase this recording, visit ArkivMusic.