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Date 16 April 2005 at 20.00 Venue The Chan Centre for the Performing Arts

Reviewer J. H. Stape




Bach Piano Concerto in F Major, BWV 1057 Mozart Piano Concerti No. 20 and No. 14 Bach Piano Concerto in D minor, BWV 1052


The Vancouver Symphony's "Bach and Beyond" series, in the congenial setting of the Chan Centre, invariably provides thoughtful programming.

These mid-April concerts were a splendid opportunity to hear one of Canada's finest musicians conducting and playing a repertoire she has claimed as her own on the Canadian and international scene.

The programme openert was a textbook case of recycling, Bach's Piano Concerto in F Major being the Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 transcribed by Bach for keyboard. The chirpy, bright Allegro gives more prominence to two flutes than to the piano, which has more continuo role until the more pensive Andante, with Hewitt beginning to shine as the piece progressed. Crisp and meticulous, her playing avoided flashiness for deep musicality.

The Mozart Piano Concerti No. 20, another familiar work, shifted into a new idiom with the piano dominating a larger orchestra including an expanded woodwind section, and drums and brass. The emotional shifts from the urgent, slightly pensive Allegro, the music-box Romanza, and the energetic and dramatic Rondo were conveyed with brio and conviction. The Allegro's cadenza, not the one usually heard, was more Romantic and slightly darker in character. The performance was carefully shaped, with Hewitt's elegant, highly polished and understated playing its watchwords.

 

 

 

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A smaller orchestra again opened the concert's second part in Mozart Piano Concerto No. 14, written for one of Mozart's students and shot through with throwaway charm, if a certain predictability in development. The gracefully played Allegro vivace featured a glittering cadenza, and the Andantino, serious but not sombre, was self-consciously beautiful. The spirited, teasingly nervous Allegro ma non troppo (just a tad fast in the event) saw polished playing from soloist and orchestra, with a chamber-music quality coming out. Indeed, the collaboration between soloist and the orchestra was seamless.

The closing piece, Bach's Piano Concerto in D minor, the most frequently played Bach keyboard work for orchestra, was again a recycled work written for violin (now lost). Hewitt displayed what can only be called "the Midas Touch," turning to pure gold what she put her hand to. Steel fingers combined with musicality made for triumph, particularly in the melancholic and intense Adagio, richly textured and given a nuanced rendition of delicacy and tonal beauty. The aggressively joyous and light in spirit Allegro rang out to close a concert of myriad delights.

And for once, aside from a singularly vulgar burst of applause after the opening work's first movement, even the near capacity audience, on its feet at the concert's close, was on good behaviour: cell phone attacks and coughing fits may reign at The Orpheum (especially on Saturdays) but quiet good manners were on show at The Chan. Kudos all round.

2005 J. H. Stape


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