Review: Angela Hewitt – Bach Goldberg Variations @ St David’s Hall

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Angela Hewitt – Bach Goldberg Variations 

St David’s Hall
Sunday 8th April 2018

We’ve been spoiled with a great choice of music at St David’s Hall and its International Concert Series. Bach has popped in and out, an outing concert from Florilegium and the entire Brandenburg Concertos was a concert of epic proportions. Though we weren’t quite done with the great composer yet…   

What a thrill to be seeing and hearing one of the best pianists of our age play in Cardiff. Angela Hewitt may have graced our stage before, though the prospect of her playing the entire Goldberg Variations was an unmissable endeavour. Written originally for harpsichord, here is another masterwork from Bach, with its eye-watering thirty movements, lasting nearly an hour and a half. 

Here we open with the famous Aria, something that most ears would recognise. We then get more proof of the composer’s genius with a flurry of variations (no doubt originally improvised before being notated) in a pristine feat of brilliance. The joy within these notes come from the life-affirming harmony and melodies Bach gifted us with as listeners. His mastery of scales and arpeggio never wains as well.

Here, Hewitt brings Bach back to life with a musicianship unlike most. Arriving on stage in a fitting gold dress, she also had a crutch, another marker of her resilience. Her fluidity in her hand motions are almost translucent at times and her power on the keys never wains. As we mellow during the various, the final few sections reached fever pitch, leading to some outstanding moments from Hewitt. The holding of the notes just before the return of the Aria was a revelation. Some patrons gasped as we heard this again, after the massive journey the variations had taken us on. The silence after she had finished, lingered. I wished it had lasted forever.

We the people of Cardiff kindly request Hewitt return sometime in the future. She makes our lives better for as long as she plays.

Life-enhancing & deeply insightful.

Rating: *****

Related Articles:

Review: Florilegium – Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos @ St David’s Hall

Photo Credit: South China Morning Post

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