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<<  -- 2 --  David Thompson    IN THE PRESENCE OF GREATNESS


And so to the Goldberg Variations, and to Bach at his most sublime. Could Hewitt possibly deliver what we had all been led to expect of her in this Mount Everest of a work, which demands virtuoso technique, consummate musicianship and the ability to experience and convey real spiritual communion? Assuredly yes. Here, indeed was that greatest of audience privileges, a great artist recreating great music and sharing her rediscovery with us. And all this without the benefit of the ubiquitous mobile phone to which we were treated in the first half. Does life get any better than this? Surely, not much!

Hewitt's totally imagined concept was simply unfolded with the artlessness that conceals the highest and most intellectually rigorous artistry. The great interpreters of Bach have this gift, and, with it, the humility to simply let Bach speak. Hewitt can be numbered with this elect, and no praise can be higher.

Angela Hewitt. Photo © Simon Fowler
Angela Hewitt. Photo © Simon Fowler

To be ungratefully churlish, I do have two tiny niggles. Her exploratory journey completed, Hewitt restated the Aria pianissimo. Surely, this unassuming little Sarabande, which has called forth, in thirty amazing variations, some of the greatest music known to man, deserves to stand proud and take its final bow, if only to amaze us with just how far we have come since we first heard it, its worth surely now enhanced, rather than diminished? And secondly, after such an experience, an encore, however much deserved, is entirely out of place whilst the audience is still in recovery. Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring is sublime Bach, to be sure, and in the same key as the variations, but there is a jarring difference between the sound-world of Bach's keyboard writing and that of Myra Hess. But no matter. Few of us departed not knowing we had been in the presence of greatness.

Copyright © 11 November 2003 David Thompson, Eastwood, Essex, UK




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