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Nocturnes / Impromptus
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Angela Hewitt is known to most of us primarily for her exquisite Bach. She grew up, as the daughter of a professional organist hearing Bach constantly and her obvious talent for baroque music seems as natural as breathing for her, although that is not to say that she hasn't thought out her performances of Bach's work to the last scintilla of control. But frankly I had not ever considered her for the Romantic literature. But here she is playing some of the most romantic piano music there is, Chopin's Nocturnes, and although her approach is classical in approach -- no grand-standing, no huffing and puffing, no swooning -- the romance comes through. One of the marvels of Hewitt's playing is that one can sit back and be ravished by her unfailingly gorgeous tone without having to think necessarily of the intellect behind the playing. But on close attention to the events of her playing one hears a clear, unclouded intellect at work through her fingers. She has 'the gift go be simple', so often the mark of a major player; simplicity isn't that easy to achieve in music. She focuses on the long line, as she describes it in her excellent booklet notes, the linearity of the abounding counterpoint -- she reminds us that Chopin made a long and thorough study of Bach and felt it was the basis of any serious musician's toolbox. Her rhythm is utterly controlled but with a natural-sounding rubato that is never willful or clunky, as so often is heard. Her left hand, so often relegated to neglected accompanimental doings by some players, is fully the equal of the right, another mark of a major player.

Nocturnes by their very nature are gentle, introspective, warm, consoling, and that is precisely what we get here. I had wondered how Ms Hewitt would handle the more dramatic works by Chopin and if her playing of the Fantaisie-Impromptu, which rounds out this disc, is any indication she would be excellent there as well.

There are a number of fine complete traversals of the Nocturnes by other pianists -- those by Arrau and Pires are recent favorites of mine -- and Hewitt's certainly can join the Nocturnes A list.

Scott Morrison
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on February 23, 2007
I have to confess, I have not yet heard this recording. I have heard Angela Hewitt and have loved the recordings I have heard. But I want to warn others of the 2 fake 1-star postings for this item. They are clearly written by the same person (same language, same grand claims to expertise, same 1-star reviews and similiar titles, etc.). I looked at their other reviews and there are none. These posts were clearly by someone on a vendetta to lower the rating for Hewitt. You know something has to be wrong when all other postings give 5 stars. I really dislike it when people post misleading and dishonest reviews. I hope this helps tip off others.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on September 7, 2006
I was surprised to see the negative reviews about this recording. I recently purchased it because I have been fascinated with Hewitt's Bach recordings, and was interested to see what she could do with Chopin. Just like in her Bach recordings, Hewitt's playing is polished, refined, exciting, and musical. I don't understand one of the comments by a reviewer about her lack of technique. She seems to have a complete command of the keyboard. Her playing is not overly sentimentalized like many Chopin recordings, and I love her breathtaking view of the overall form and architecture of each piece. Everything she does makes sense when put in context with the rest of the piece.

Excellent recording---and I was thrilled that she included the impromptus along with the Nocturnes. Hewitt brings a freshness and excitement to each piece, even the ones that are over played! I still love Rubinstein's recording of the Nocturnes, along with some others, but I will certainly refer back to this recording as a superb example of Chopin playing.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on February 25, 2005
I found Angela Hewitt's interpretation of the Chopin Nocturnes quite lovely -- well-considered and thoughtfully executed. Her program notes on the works alone are worth the cost of the CD. They are not as passionate as some other versions but very enjoyable. The real gem on this CD, however, is the "Fantaisie-Impromptu" at the end. It is incomparable in clarity, dynamics, and excitement. All other versions I've heard, no matter how passionate, sound monochromatic when set against Ms. Hewitt's. This is a "must own" interpretation.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon April 24, 2005
Angela Hewitt's interpretation of Chopin's nocturnes is downright hypnotic. Chopin stated that his work was intimate, and Angela Hewitt fulfills that promise. Her CD notes are also well worth reading, and give us an insight into the pianist and how she approaches her work. I bought this purely because I love her Bach work... and was overjoyed... what a pianist! Although I was able to buy this on a fabulous sale, it's worth every penny of the list price.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 13, 2008
This is romantic piano music of the highest order: Chopin's Nocturnes should have a place in every record collection. Perhaps the finest example of virtuoso classical piano composition, this is deeply involving and emotional material. Canadian pianist Angela Hewitt brings out the bel canto aspects of this music beautifully, and the audio quality is first class. I prefer Hewitt's playing to other versions I've heard (Pollini, for example) whose intensity and sheer sound volume can conceal the fine textures of Chopin's night-time pieces for me.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 14, 2012
I consider this set generally on a par with Rubinstein, only on a modern recording and with amazing tone and dynamics (partly due to the Fazioli). One is entitled not to share this view, of course, but it is obviously pitiful and incompetent - or fraudulent - to write of the "poor technique" of a pianist universally acclaimed as one of the best Bach's performers.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on December 22, 2008
I have been a fan of Ms Hewitt ever since hearing her recording of the Bach French Overture. The old adage is that if you can play Bach, you can play Chopin. Certainly there is a lot of Bach in Chopin. It's not obvious since Chopin absorbed and incorporated so much of Bach's harmonic (especially dissonant) and contrapuntal influences into his own unique style.

Firstly, I must say that Ms Hewitt has a wonderful technique. She has total command of the instrument. I found her tone and touch very satisfying.
However, I found that the agitated middle sections of some Nocturnes, especially Op 9 n 3 and Op 15 n 2, were taken too quickly. At such high speeds these sections tend to become trivialized. The exposition of the Nocturne Op 37 n 2 was absolutely fantastic. But, the barcarolle-like second subject was taken too fast. I thought the exposition of the Op 55 n 1 was also executed too quickly and lost its lugubriousness.

That's the downside. However, there is much more upside to this recording. Hewitt is spectacular in many of the Nocturnes. She is wonderful in the Op 32 n 2. Here her rendering of the middle section is one of the best I've heard. She is stellar in both Nocturnes of Op 27. The two Nocturnes of Op 62 are also well delivered-especially the second in E Major. The posthumous E minor Nocturne is beautifully performed.
So despite some reservations, I would recommend this recording. Ms Hewitt is a scholar and a prodigious pianist--and certainly knows much more about these pieces than I do.
Regarding the Four Impromptus, she delivers solid performances. I would say though, that I thought she took the exposition of the Fanatisie -Impromptu a little too quickly. At such a fast tempo, the indigenous agitation of cross-rhythm is somewhat obscured.

I still prefer Arthur Rubinstein, Claudio Arrau and Brigitte Engerer for overall consistency in traversing Chopin's marvelous Nocturnes. But, when dealing with masterpieces one can't get enough diverse views. Ms Hewitt's interpretation is a welcome addition to the lexicon.
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7 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on January 13, 2005
This is a magnificent recording of the Nocturnes. Probably the best ever. We have a new Chopin interpreter in Angela Hewitt. I hope she produces more . If she does then we're in for a treat.
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9 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on July 28, 2006
Before I began writing this I read the other reviews and had to roll my eyes. Only one other reviewer so far seems to know just how bad this set is.

This is just another example of people picking the best of two or three 'dusty' sets they have off their shelves that they may listen to once a year. People such as these are giving credit to the composer, not the performer.

I own now 12 complete sets of these nocturnes and have partial sets by many more. I've listened to them regularly since a small child, as they were my among my mother's favorite pieces to play on her Boesendorfer grand piano. I still believe they are among the best compositions by any composer.

I really don't understand what these reviewers could possibly be hearing in Hewitt's playing. With all their fanciful word play and such (as is typical of reviewers), it seems the more fanciful the writing, the less they seem to know what they're talking about.

With all the sets I own, this one rates near the bottom. Not only is it not good, it's BAD and incredibly superificial. She is playing elevator music. Her technical skills are also poor. I also feel BAD for the reviewers who give this good reviews, as it is sad that they have yet to learn what Chopin's nocturnes are really about, and what good piano playing sounds like.

What a waste of money this was. Thank goodness I have my sets by Fou Ts'ong and Rubinstein. I'm able to appreciate many things in unconventional interpretations such as that by Pires. But I'm afraid that Ms. Hewitt's playing here is good only for helping one to fall asleep. The only interesting thing about this set is the interesting tone of the Fazioli she plays on. It colours the nocturnes in a different way. I like Fazioli pianos (in Beethoven and Schubert especially), but don't think it's a pleasing choice for the nocturnes. Steinway, Mason & Hamlin and Boesendorfer are good for these works.
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Debussy: Solo Piano Music by Angela Hewitt (Audio CD - 2012)

 
     

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