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Saturday, February 11, 2017

Emmanuel Chabrier - Piano Works (Angela Hewitt)


Composer: Emmanuel Chabrier
  1. Impromptu
  2. Ronde champêtre
  3. Dix Pièces pittoresques: Paysage
  4. Dix Pièces pittoresques: Mélancolie
  5. Dix Pièces pittoresques: Tourbillon
  6. Dix Pièces pittoresques: Sous-bois
  7. Dix Pièces pittoresques: Mauresque
  8. Dix Pièces pittoresques: Idylle
  9. Dix Pièces pittoresques: Danse villageoise
  10. Dix Pièces pittoresques: Improvisation
  11. Dix Pièces pittoresques: Menuet pompeux
  12. Dix Pièces pittoresques: Scherzo-valse
  13. Aubade
  14. Ballabile
  15. Caprice
  16. Feuillet d'album
  17. Habanera
  18. Bourrée fantasque

Angela Hewitt, piano
Date: 2006
Label: Hyperion



Chabrier’s name lives on primarily through España and Marche joyeuse. His tiny output for piano is far too rarely encountered in the concert hall or on recordings, yet he is a delightful, self-contained original. From his total of a mere 26 titles, Angela Hewitt plays 18 on this little gem of a disc.

As it happened, I listened first to Habanera (track 17), one of my favourites, a languid, sensuous dance, and was struck by the unusual acoustic. It sounds as though the piano was recorded in some deserted fin de siècle spa hotel – and so it proves, for Hewitt’s richly coloured Fazioli was captured in ‘Das Kulturzentrum Grand Hotel, Dobbiaco, Italy’, conjuring up images of cobwebbed spa patients shuffling vacantly round the dance floor before their next treatment.

In fact, whenever there is an exposed soft passage in the upper treble in this programme, the same atmospheric effect engages the ear momentarily; in the more robust items, it is hardly noticeable. As a piano recording, it is far preferable to Pierre Barbizet’s dry and close-miked 1982 Chabrier collection (Erato – nla), but his discs feature the complete works.

As to Hewitt’s performances, they are as affectionate, warm, lyrical and charming as one could wish, underlining but not exaggerating Chabrier’s deliciously predictable unpredictability. Though a tad slower than Barbizet in the two virtuoso numbers, Scherzo-valse and Bourrée fantasque (what splendid encores they would make), Hewitt’s sparkling playfulness somehow makes them sound more vivacious.

-- Jeremy Nicholas, Gramophone

More reviews:
BBC Music Magazine  PERFORMANCE: **** / SOUND: *** 


Emmanuel Chabrier (January 18, 1841 – September 13, 1894) was a French Romantic composer and pianist. Although known primarily for two of his orchestral works, España and Joyeuse marche, he left an important corpus of operas (including L'étoile), songs, and piano music. He was admired by composers such as Debussy, Ravel, Richard Strauss, Satie, Schmitt, Stravinsky, and the group Les six. Mahler called España "the beginnings of modern music". Chabrier was also associated with some of the leading writers and painters of his time, such as Claude Monet and Édouard Manet.


Angela Hewitt (born July 26, 1958) is a British/Canadian classical pianist. She is most well known for her cycle of Bach recordings covering all the major keyboard works of J.S. Bach. Her discography also includes works by Couperin, Rameau, Messiaen, Chabrier, Ravel, Schumann, Beethoven, Chopin, Debussy and Fauré. In recent years, she records using her own piano, a Fazioli F308 grand. Hewitt was named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) on June 17, 2006 and Gramophone Artist of the Year in 2006.


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  3. Same to me, very much appreciated, as I up to now still knew the recordings with Pierre Barbizet, and so I'm very curious to listen to Angela Hewitt who I listend gladly to her recordings of Couperin and Bach.

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