One of the most grown-up review sites around

52,000 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider

Yes we are selling
Acte Prealable again!
£11 post-free

we also sell Skarbo

and Oboe Classics


with Eggebrecht we get all the excitement we can handle

Book 1 Book 2 Book3
Mota The Triptych: -Website

Asmik Grigorian

Breathtaking Performance
controversial staging
Review Westbrook
Review Hedley
Every lover of Salome should see this recording
Mullenger interpretation

absolutely thrilling

immediacy and spontaneity

Schumann Lieder

24 Preludes
one of the finest piano discs

‘Box of Delights.’

J S Bach A New Angle
Organ fans form an orderly queue

a most welcome issue

I enjoyed it tremendously

the finest traditions of the house

music for theorbo
old and new

John Luther Adams
Become Desert
concealing a terrifying message

ground-breaking, winning release

screams quality

Surprise of the month

English Coronation, 1902-1953
magnificent achievement

Plain text for smartphones & printers

We are currently offering in excess of 52,000 reviews

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

Support us financially by purchasing this from
Franz LISZT (1811-1886)
Piano Sonata in B minor S178 [34:23]
Sonetto 47 del Petrarca S161/4 [6:24]
Sonetto 104 del Petrarca S161/5 [7:35]
Sonetto 123 del Petrarca S161/6 [7:58]
Après une lecture du Dante: Fantasia quasi Sonata S161/7 [18:15]
Angela Hewitt (piano)
rec. 19-22 May 2014, Jesus-Christus-Kirche, Berlin
HYPERION CDA68067 [74:37]

I was interested to read in the accompanying booklet notes to this release Angela Hewitt’s early reactions to the Liszt Sonata, that it was a long meandering structure with no sense of direction or purpose. That notion soon changed when she heard her then teacher Jean-Paul Sévilla play it. So, at the age of eighteen, she decided to learn it; it took two months. Since that time the Sonata has remained in her active repertoire being "brought … out of the cupboard at regular intervals". It has been her long-held desire to record it. I was fortunate to hear Hewitt play the Liszt Sonata at a local concert several years ago, and was impressed by the sensitivity she brought to the score, a sentiment I shared with her after the concert.

Liszt’s B minor Sonata was completed February 1853 and published the following year. It is dedicated to Robert Schumann, in return for Schumann’s dedication to Liszt of the C major Fantasie, Op. 17. It is an innovative work, technically demanding and requiring a pianist with great virtuosic skill and stamina to do it justice. It is cast in one movement, consisting of up of six themes which undergo transformation as things progress. The performer needs to grasp the work’s cyclical structure, keep it as a single cohesive unit and integrate the themes into one overarching sonata-form movement.

Listening to this performance, Hewitt rises to the challenge admirably. Her performance has poise, elegance, nobility and refinement. She doesn’t deliver a barn-storming event, but allows the music a chance to breathe. Some may perhaps miss the visceral excitement of Argerich’s DG recording, but I am drawn to this more measured and probing approach. I also admire Hewitt’s wide dynamic range, and sensitive use of pedal, by which she is able to achieve an enriching palette of tonal colour. Whilst I applaud the sweeping gestures of the narrative, Hewitt’s treatment of the more poetic aspects of the work are breathtaking. The whole performance is underpinned by a sense of inevitability.

We have to turn the clock back for the remainder of Hewitt’s recital in which she offers selections from the Années de Pèlerinage Book II (Italie). This set of pieces was composed between 1837 and 1849, and published in 1858. The three Petrarch Sonnets were originally conceived as songs, but later adapted for solo piano and incorporated into the Années de Pèlerinage. They are the composer’s musical response to the poet’s depiction of love for Laura de Noves, and Hewitt reflects this in her playing. She focuses on the intimacy, simplicity and reflective qualities of the music.

In contrast, Après une lecture du Dante ‘Fantasia quasi Sonata’, based on Dante’s ‘Divine Poem’ is an epic view. Hewitt brings to the work formidable drama, power and intensity and portrays a great range of emotion. Yet, in the more lyrical moments, she invests the score with subtle poetic insights.

The Jesus-Christus-Kirche, Berlin provides a warm and spacious acoustic. Hewitt uses an Italian Fazioli piano, a make she favours. It produces a full, powerful and rich sound, ideal for this repertoire. The pianist has written her own insightful annotations, discussing the works in detail, and setting them in the context of the composer’s life. The full texts of the Petrarch Sonnets are provided in English, French and German translation, together with the original Italian.

Whilst I wouldn’t like to be without Horowitz (1932) and Argerich in the Liszt Sonata, and Brendel in the Années de Pèlerinage Book II (Italie) selections, Hewitt’s take on these magnificent works offers a compelling alternative.

Stephen Greenbank