Thursday, May 18, 2017

Gabriel Fauré - Piano Works (Angela Hewitt)


Information

Composer: Gabriel Fauré
  1. Thème et variations in C sharp major, Op. 73: Theme
  2. Thème et variations in C sharp major, Op. 73: Var 1. L'istesso tempo
  3. Thème et variations in C sharp major, Op. 73: Var 2. Piu mosso
  4. Thème et variations in C sharp major, Op. 73: Var 3. Un poco piu mosso
  5. Thème et variations in C sharp major, Op. 73: Var 4. L'istesso tempo
  6. Thème et variations in C sharp major, Op. 73: Var 5. Un poco piu mosso
  7. Thème et variations in C sharp major, Op. 73: Var 6. Molto adagio
  8. Thème et variations in C sharp major, Op. 73: Var 7. Allegro moderato
  9. Thème et variations in C sharp major, Op. 73: Var 8. Andante molto moderato
  10. Thème et variations in C sharp major, Op. 73: Var 9. Quasi adagio
  11. Thème et variations in C sharp major, Op. 73: Var 10. Allegro vivo
  12. Thème et variations in C sharp major, Op. 73: Var 11. Andante molto, moderato espressivo
  13. Valse-caprice No. 1 in A major, Op. 30
  14. Valse-caprice No. 2 in D flat major, Op. 38
  15. Nocturne No. 5 in B flat major, Op. 37
  16. Nocturne No. 6 in D flat major, Op. 63
  17. Nocturne No. 13 in B minor, Op. 119
  18. Ballade in F sharp major, Op. 19

Angela Hewitt, piano
Date: 2013
Label: Hyperion
http://www.hyperion-records.co.uk/dc.asp?dc=D_CDA67875

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Review

Angela Hewitt’s selection of some of her favourite Fauré pieces means that we probably can’t expect a collected edition of the solo piano works from her. Nevertheless, she has long been an adherent of the composer, and he forms part of her long-established French repertoire, only a smallish part of which she has recorded. 
  
She has selected one of his masterpieces, the Theme and Variations, Op.73, the first two of the four Valses-caprices, three of the Nocturnes and the early, and not wholly representative Ballade, which is also known in its version for piano-and-orchestra, which Hewitt has also played in concert. 
  
She plays this repertoire with real vitality and extroversion. The first of the Valses-Caprices is artfully, indeed lavishly introduced, and presented as a glittering fantasy of rhetoric; maybe it sounds arch to those used to more sober readings but it’s certainly an arresting point of view. A plainer-speaker, such as Jean Hubeau, responds more peaceably, more domestically, if you will; Hewitt certainly makes it seem a bigger piece, with more pressing contrasts, almost to the point of being parodic of the form itself. Bigger, then, certainly, but the downside is sometimes a reluctance to relax into a phrase. But as with the second caprice, there’s a real communicative spirit at work, fluent, searching for colour and drive; playing of great digital assurance and sophistication. 
  
When it comes to the Nocturnes her playing reminds me a little of Jean-Philippe Collard - though not of her erstwhile teacher in this repertoire, Jean-Paul Sévilla, whose recordings of Fauré, regrettably, I find unconvincing, even drab. Her sense of phrasing and sense of continuity in the three Nocturnes is Collard-like in intimacy and sensitive proportion. She tends to point up the bass line, too. Don’t be taken in by the apparently very slow tempo for the B minor; it’s nearer to 8:13 than 8:29. It’s nevertheless more leisurely than most performances, but is still warmly textured and doesn’t sound especially slow, much less laboured. Curiously, though not so slow, this was a Nocturne that Germaine Thyssens-Valentin also took time over, and she wasn’t known especially for slow tempi. Her recordings of the composer’s music are now on Testament and are indispensable. Fine though Hubeau is here, if a little withdrawn, it’s Collard and Hewitt who are the more imaginative in the Nocturnes. The Ballade has been recorded by musicians such as Paul Crossley and Kathryn Stott but it still remains under-represented on disc. It’s an early lyrical work, splendidly conveyed here. 
  
Which leaves just the Theme and Variations: she makes something of a dogmatic meal over some of the articulation of the Theme - it sounds very imposed - but once past that the playing settles down. The variations are unfolded with nuance and subtlety, even though I still find Collard the more naturally felicitous performer in this piece. There are, for example, just a few exaggerations in Hewitt’s playing of the third variation. 
  
In this repertoire Thyssens-Valentin’s 1950s recordings remain the most inspirational and often unexpected, though some have questioned her textual accuracy. Hubeau is a safer performer, but Collard’s youthful readings still retain their marvellous freshness. Hewitt’s single disc selection offers extrovert vitality, and some personalised moments alongside them. The recording, much like the playing itself, is excellent. 

-- Jonathan Woolf, MusicWeb International

More reviews:
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2013/Oct13/Faure_piano_CDA67875.htm
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2013/Nov13/Faure_piano_CDA67875.htm
http://www.gramophone.co.uk/review/faur%C3%A9-piano-works
http://www.theguardian.com/music/2013/sep/05/faure-piano-music-review
http://www.limelightmagazine.com.au/Review/370361,faur-piano-music-hewitt.aspx
http://www.allmusic.com/album/faur%C3%A9-piano-music-mw0002564404
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Faure-Angela-Hewitt-Hyperion-CDA67875-x/dp/B00DOVXMRU

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Gabriel Fauré (12 May 1845 – 4 November 1924) was a French composer, organist, pianist and teacher. He was one of the foremost French composers of his generation, and his musical style influenced many 20th-century composers. Among his best-known works are his Pavane, Requiem, nocturnes for piano and the songs "Après un rêve" and "Clair de lune". Fauré composed many of his most highly regarded works in his later years, in a more harmonically and melodically complex style. His music has been described as linking the end of Romanticism with 20th century modernism.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gabriel_Faur%C3%A9

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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.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angela_Hewitt

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