Transcriptions by Schubert, R Schumann, R Strauss et al
Angela Hewitt (piano)
Hyperion CDA68341 72:28 mins
Keyboard transcriptions are often exaggerated puddings, with the transcriptionist gleefully drowning simple lyrical songs in buckets of octaves, arpeggios, scales and roulades. Angela Hewitt’s spacious and uncluttered approach shamelessly revel in the piano while letting the original songs sing.
I fell in love with Gieseking’s sans filigree version of Strauss’s “Freundliche Vision”. Reger’s loving but respectful renditions of Strauss songs, including the glorious “Morgen!”, Extend the singing abilities of the piano. No pianist who has accompanied ‘Allerseelen’ can resist the chance to ‘sing’ him like Hewitt does. And there are treasures here – Wilhelm Kempff’s crystal-clear arrangement of Gluck’s greatest five minutes – The Lament of Orpheus and the Dance of the Blessed Spirits – should be on every pianist’s birthday list. Ernesto Halffter’s arrangements of De Falla Siete canciones populares española are translucent and full of character, exciting Hewitt. The slow song succession is a bit static, but we end, cleanly, with Grainger transcribing Gershwin and Siloti transcribing Grainger.
The real goodies are Hewitt’s own arrangements. The famous “Bist du bei mir” by Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel seems a little reserved, but that of Mahler Adagietto of the Fifth Symphony is as heartbreaking as the original. Hewitt creates a captivating duet storyline from Grieg’s “Ich liebe dich” which is sparklingly beautiful.
The engaging liner notes weave a thread through Hewitt’s own memories as well as the parents’ music. All in all, this beautifully recorded recital is a gift for all song-loving pianists who struggle with the stubbornly hard-hitting nature of the instrument.