Bach, J.S.: Arrangements Import
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She opens with the grand "Sinfonia in D major" (an organ work), a fireworks-filled piece, softening with the gentle and poignant "Siciliano in G minor" (written for the flute), then turns grave with the sarabande-like "Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland." The joy in "Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme" is revealed by Ms. Hewitt's sprightly playing, while the drama in the "Passacaglia in C minor" (the longest piece of the set) unfolds with an understated grandeur. The famous "Jesu, joy of man's desiring," with its elegant tempo and looped melody, has not been left out, and neither has Ms. Hewitt's favorite encore, the lovely "Sheep may safely graze."
Although well-known names make up the list of transcribers (Wilhelm Kempff, Myra Hess, Mary Howe, William Walton, Harold Bauer, just to mention a few), Ms. Hewitt herself contributes three of her own transcriptions from the "Orgelbuchlein" to the lot. Her sterling touch is exquisite, her playing translucent, sparkling and meticulously articulate without being petty, grand without being showy. The Steinway piano she plays upon deserves praise as well, with all its 88 deep, rounded tones a joy to listen to.
The seventeen pages of excellent notes (by Ms. Hewitt) offer a wealth of information that educates and amuses. Few album notes are as well-written as these, and with the help of a basic music dictionary, the average listener can only profit greatly from them.
Highly recommended with no reservations whatsoever.
The playing is, of course, elegant, musical, even thrilling in places. Some old favorites are here--Dame Myra's 'Jesu, joy of man's desiring,' d'Albert's monumental 'Passacaglia in c minor, BWV 582.' But there are some transcriptions I'd never heard before--Lord Berners's 'In dulci jubilo,' Bauer's scrumptious 'Die Seele ruht in Jesu Händen.' Altogether a worthy program in the lifelike sound Hyperion always seems to provide for its stable of wonderful pianists. Indeed, I can't think of a single criticism I'd want to make.
The disc starts with five excellent choices of transcriptions by Wilhelm Kempf. The first is simply splendid, namely the Sinfonia in D major. Perhaps this is the most convincing of all the works in terms of the piano being the right instrument for the music. "Wachet auf" is also peformed very well.
Next are two lovely pieces, the Mary Howe transcription of "Sheep may safely graze," and the Myra Hess transcription of "Jesu, joy of man's desiring." These are my favorites on the entire disc.
Another beautiful piece that Hewitt plays very gracefully is Harriet Cohen's transcripition of "Sanctify us by Thy goodness."
Hewitt is spectacular in the toughest piece, the Eugen d'Albert transcription of the famous Passacaglia in C minor. This piece sounds really good on the piano, but I have to admit that I miss the pedal notes.
I highly recommend this beautiful set of Bach arrangements.
In her most-informative notes, Hewitt points out how "the ability to translate spirituality into sound at the keyboard is of certainly important to avoid famous tunes sounding banal or hacknayed." Her versions of the famous "Jesu" and "Sheep may safely graze" (as well as her own three lovely transcriptions) do seem to succeed in conveying a spiritual core to avoid sounding trite. In the great Bach pastoral work ("Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring"), Hewitt convincingly summons the nurturing personna of Dame Myra Hess who played her piano transcription of this choral work almost daily over BBC radio to comfort many in hardship during the great war. Maybe in a couple pieces, as some suggest, Ms. Hewitt draws out her tempos a bit, but I found this gave the piece a more introspective tone that I appreciated later upon further listening.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
One of the most beautiful arrangements of Bach I have experienced. I don't know who sent it to me, but I loved it so much, I have given gifts to my piano playing friends. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Suzanne L. Harris
I heard "Sleepers Awake" on the radio driving to work the other day and just had to track down this CD. Read morePublished on January 13, 2013 by frankp93
I don't want to deter anyone from purchasing this CD. It is remarkable in most respects. The microphones must have been excellent, their placement perfect, and the engineering... Read morePublished on August 22, 2012 by suigeneris
After a little period of adjustment, these arrangements 'grow on you', because they are so very well performed. Read morePublished on July 11, 2007 by R. G. W. Brown
This is a CD you'll always enjoy revisiting. Miss Hewitt shares the deep wonders of J.S. Bach, in a powerful and moving way. Read morePublished on June 17, 2006 by D. Brott