Last Sunday, Angela Hewitt breezed into town and gave a terrific recital of music by Bach, Beethoven, Rameau, and Chabrier. Sponsored by Portland Piano International, Hewitt played with sparkling intelligence and inspired artistry before a capacity audience at Newmark Theatre in downtown Portland. She also performed on a Faziolli piano (which is the brand that she favors) that sounded fantastic!
Hewitt began her program with Bach's French Suite No. 4 in E-flat Major. She seemed to shape each passage with elegance and charm. Sometimes she would make the sound in the bass line a little louder than the sound in the treble. Then she would seamlessly bring out the treble line. The music was crystalline but not brittle. It had warmth and elegance, but it was never cold and elitist.
Next came a wonderful interpretation of Beethoven's Sonata No. 3 in C Major. Again, Hewitt's playing was immaculate. I loved the way that she could kick a note with one of her fingers. Her transitions from soft, dreamy passages to stormy ones were effortless and completely natural. She didn't overstate the music in some wild way, but it had plenty of drama and beauty.
After intermission, Hewitt played Rameau's Suite in A minor in a way that made the piano sound like a harpsichord. The intricate closeness of the notes and the delicacy of the music made me think of someone who was braiding hair made of silk. Hewitt's subtle changing of tempi and the colors of sound made this piece fascinating.
The concert ended with two pieces by Chabrier. The first was "Trois Pieces pittoresques" and the second "Bourree fantasque." Again, Hewitt delivered a magnificent interpretation with stunning clarity and joyous lyricism. Her music-making takes you to a higher level, one that leaves you feeling that your life has just been enhanced.