Sofia Gubaidulina, composer

Sofia Gubaidulina, composer
Sofia Gubaidulina

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Johann Sebastian Bach: The Art of Fugue, BWV 1080 – Angela Hewitt (Download 44kHz/24bit & 44.1kHz/16bit)

I won't mince words. This Art of Fugue is marvellous. The variety and beauty of tone alone make compelling listening, bringing contrasts, clarity and warmth to Bach's intellectual marvels... Yet her fingers never make the results dry triumphs of engineering. — The Times, October 3, 2014

How does one sustain interest and concentration without compromising the music's structure and character? Contrapunctus I alone reveals not only Angela Hewitt's solution to these challenges but also the extent of her evolution as a Bach player... Hewitt's expressive and dynamic range is both expanded and strategically deployed. — Gramophone Magazine, October 2014

Hewitt admits she was daunted by this music... She only took The Art of Fugue into her repertoire in 2012, but it crowns – magnificently – her acclaimed Hyperion recordings of the complete keyboard works, reaffirming her position as the outstanding Bach pianist of her generation. — Sunday Times, October 26, 2014

The instrument is radiantly captured by Hyperion's engineers; indeed, for sheer beauty of sound, this version is unparalleled... Hewitt spins a lyrical cantabile throughout, every line eloquently voiced and articulated. Admirable, too, is her ability to make the music dance with balletic grace. — BBC Music Magazine, December 2014

Hewitt's account, characteristically, is clean and precise but always pianistic – she never seems, like some pianists, to be imitating a harpsichord, whereas her delicate touch means that the music is not burdened with undue heaviness. — International Record Review, December 2014

Photo by Maria Teresa De Luca

In his advertisement for the publication of The Art of Fugue, cited in the booklet notes to this excellent new release, C.P.E. Bach noted that "all of the parts are singable throughout", an assertion that might startle some who regard the work as the acme of abstract intellectuality in music. But "singability" is perhaps that outstanding quality of Angela Hewitt's interpretation. On the whole, her tempos tend to be a bit slower than we often hear, certainly from artists such as Charles Rosen, whose Sony recording remains the benchmark, or the more recent Zhu Xiao-Mei (Accentus), but the music never drags.

Compare Hewitt to Rosen, for example, in one of the fugues usually taken swiftly, the double fugue in invertible counterpoint at the twelfth (Contrapunctus IX), and you will hear that although Rosen is quicker and more "instrumental", Hewitt's own brand of liveliness has a natural pulse and energy all its own. The music always sings or, in the case of such pieces as the Contrapunctus VI "in the French style", dances. The fact is that densely contrapuntal music such as this lives or dies on the clarity and balance of its independent lines, and its energy comes from within, as it were, in the way that they jostle against each other. Thus, the slithery chromatic harmonies of Contrapunctus XI impel the music forward as Hewitt's smooth articulation and subtle attention to Bach's voice-leading permit the music to glide along elegantly, like a skater over ice.

Hewitt plays the fugues in numerical order until the two mirror fugues, Nos. XII and XIII. Then come the various canons, and finally the incomplete Contrapunctus XIV followed by the chorale Vor deinen Thron tret ich Hiermit. It's a pity that Hewitt did not choose one of the completions of this last fugue, Tovey's especially. A certain mystique hovers over all incomplete works of the great composers, but that fact is that Bach would necessarily have figured out the details of how his various melodies would combine as a prerequisite to beginning work, and the number of ways that could happen is necessarily limited within his aesthetic system. So a stylistically apt conjectural completion such as Tovey's is in fact quite likely to be close to what Bach might have done, and probably did do, even if we can never be absolutely sure.

This is, in any case, a matter of personal preference and Hewitt is certainly entitled to draw her own conclusions. It only remains to be said that she is gorgeously recorded, and that she provides thoughtful, intelligent, thorough, and very readable notes that provide a good bit of pleasure all by themselves. In a work that offers so much freedom to the performer regarding its realization there can never be a "best" recording, but this must certainly be ranked as one of them on the basis of its distinctive and always supremely musical qualities.

Source: David Hurwitz, November 2014 (

Photo by Lorenzo Dogana

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

♪ The Art of Fugue, BWV 1080 (1742-1746, rev. 1748–1750)

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One of the world's leading pianists, Angela Hewitt appears in recital and with major orchestras throughout Europe, the Americas and Asia. Her interpretations of Bach have established her as one of the composer's foremost interpreters of our time.

Angela's award-winning cycle for Hyperion Records of all the major keyboard works of Bach has been described as "one of the record glories of our age" (The Sunday Times). Her much-awaited recording of Bach's "Art of Fugue" appeared in 2014, and immediately hit the charts in the UK and USA. Her discography also includes albums of Couperin, Rameau, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Schumann, Liszt, Fauré, Debussy, Chabrier, Ravel, and Granados. With conductor Hannu Lintu she has recorded two albums of Mozart Piano Concertos (the most recent one with the National Arts Centre Orchestra won a Juno Award in Canada), the Schumann Piano Concerto with the DSO Berlin, and Messiaen's "Turangalila Symphony" with the Finnish Radio Symphony. New releases include her first disc of Scarlatti Sonatas, and her sixth volume of Beethoven Sonatas (including "Les Adieux"). Last year Angela was inducted into Gramophone Magazine's "Hall of Fame" thanks to her popularity with music lovers around the world. Her second recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations will be released on 30 September 2016.

At the invitation of London's Wigmore Hall, Angela will perform the complete keyboard works of Bach in a series of twelve recitals over four years, beginning in September 2016. "The Bach Odyssey" will also be presented complete in New York (92nd Street Y), Tokyo, and Ottawa. Recitals in the 2016-2017 season will take her to such diverse places as Talinn, Tivoli (Copenhagen), Vienna (her solo debut), Madrid, Bilbao, Aldeburgh (Snape Maltings), Rotterdam, Bath, Florence, Singapore, and all over Australia (Musica Viva tour in May 2017). Concerto appearances will include the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa (with Alexander Shelley), the Baltimore Symphony (with Hannu Lintu), the Montreal Symphony (with Kent Nagano), a tour of the UK with the Vienna Tonkünstler Orchestra, and with the Lucerne Festival Strings in Munich (conducting from the keyboard). She also continues to perform with authors and actors, most recently with Ian McEwan (in Vienna and New York), Julian Barnes (in Vienna's Konzerthaus in April 2017) and Roger Allam (at Shakespeare's Globe in London).

Born into a musical family (Ottawa, Ontario, July 26, 1958), Angela began her piano studies aged three, performing in public at four and a year later winning her first scholarship. She then went on to learn with French pianist, Jean-Paul Sévilla. In 1985 she won the Toronto International Bach Piano Competition.

In July 2005, Angela launched the Trasimeno Music Festival in the heart of Umbria near Perugia. An annual event, it draws an international audience to the Castle of the Knights of Malta in Magione, on the shores of Lake Trasimeno. Seven concerts in seven days feature Hewitt as a recitalist, chamber musician, song accompanist, and conductor, working with both established and young artists of her choosing.

Angela Hewitt is an Ambassador for "Orkidstra" – a Sistema-inspired, social development program in Ottawa's inner city which, through the joy of learning and playing music together, teaches children life-skills such as commitment, teamwork and tolerance. She is also in great demand for masterclasses around the world, generously sharing her knowledge and experience with young pianists.

Named "Artist of the Year" at the 2006 Gramophone Awards, she was awarded an OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours in 2006. In 2015 Angela was promoted to a Companion of the Order of Canada. She is a member of the Royal Society of Canada, has seven honorary doctorates, and is a Visiting Fellow of Peterhouse College in Cambridge.


Photo by Peter Hundert

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