Hot on the heels of Mitsuko Uchida's superlative Schumann disc [DECCA 4782280], here is another performance of the Davidsbϋndlertänze, accompanied this time by the poetic Kinderszenen and the powerful Second Sonata.
Like Uchida, Angela Hewitt places special store
by the Davidsbϋndlertänze and it certainly gets the best
performance of the three works here. Hewitt plays with a very strong technique
and a warm, well balanced piano sound. I find a lot to admire in her Beethoven
and Bach, but her Schumann is not on the same plane. Put her "Mit Humor"
next to Uchida's and you will see what I mean directly, the one spiky with
fully sprung rhythms, the other disjointed and ultimately uninvolving. For the
most part Hewitt plays very well and her touch and color capture the mood well,
but Uchida's performance is transcendental. Within broadly similar timings
Uchida finds more poetry and power, greater contrasts and yet more cohesion
between the disparate elements — Florestan and Eusebius — that characterize
Hewitt's Kinderszenen is a
straightforward version that impresses but fails to bring new insights to the
work, unlike Radu Lupu's lyrical account on London [440 496-2]. Horowitz'
performance from the sixties does not scale the heights he is capable of in
Schumann [Sony MK 42409], but is more natural and poetic than Hewitt and worth
The G Minor Sonata is a disappointment. It is played in a most declamatory fashion, as if to get every last decibel out of the piano, and sadly her normally beautiful piano tone does not hold up well under this full frontal assault. Richter or Gilels could pull off this approach, and Horowitz especially had superb control of the piano tone at extreme forte, terrifying the listener at will. I was not comfortable with Hewitt's approach; looking for greater subtlety in dynamics and phrasing, I was not well disposed to appreciate the finer points of her performance.
All told, this is a mixed bag, lacking that
ultimate joy of music making Hewitt has often made her own.
Sonata in G Minor