Angela Hewitt - Bach: The Six Partitas (BWV 825-830)

Friday 1st August 1997
Angela Hewitt - Bach: The Six Partitas (BWV 825-830)

STYLE: Classical
RATING 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10
LABEL: Hyperion 671912

Reviewed by John Irvine

It now seems astounding to us that out of over 1000 compositions, only a dozen or so were published in Bach's lifetime. Even the popular Brandenburg Concertos had to wait over 100 years before being published. Bach's Partitas were the first of his solos instrumental works to be published. Partita is simply another name for a suite of dance movements in the same key formed to make a satisfactory whole. Typically for Bach, an overall plan is evident: his highly organised and precise mind is evident in most of his compositions - it's one of the attractions of his music, which is not to say that Bach's music does not work at an emotional level: almost everything he wrote has the ability to deeply move both artist and audience alike. While technically demanding, the Partitas are nevertheless enjoyable to listen to with a very fluid left hand continuo (accompaniment) constantly contrasted with a melodic right hand passage. Each of the six Partitas are subdivided into six or seven dances according to the conventions of the day. Although you couldn't actually dance to this music, each section conveys the flavour and feel of the courtty dance it mimics. Bach wrote for the keyboard instruments in his day: the clavichord, the harpsichord, etc. Most modern interpreters play Bach on the piano to make the most of his expressive writing. Canadian Angela Hewitt is no exception to this trend. An international performer since 985, she has been described by critics as one of the foremost interpreters of Bach on the piano, although her repertoire extends to contemporary composers also. What can be said about her playing on these discs except that her playing is an absolute joy to listen to. She plays with absolute conviction, tackling even the hardest and most demanding of passages with precision and serenity. This recital is infused with her love of Bach's music in general and her enthusiasm for the Partitas in particular. An outstanding performance unlikely to be bettered for some time.

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