Hewitt finds in it the occasion to create a gentle pastorale, continuing in the allemande. The most remarkable part of the suite consists of a veritable onslaught of courantes. The courante is a triple-time dance that steps out two different ways: three groups of 2 beats, or two groups of 3. In Bach especially, the rhythm subtly shifts so that often you find yourself lost within a measure. Hewitt contends that the French courante differs from the Italian corrente. It moves more slowly. Nevertheless, it's not a slow dance.
In any case, where other pianists dash off these two movements in around five minutes, Hewitt clocks in at over nine, but not due solely to the tempo. The second courante takes up the time. After a full statement with repeats of the dance, Hewitt presents the courante with the exquisite embroidery of Bach's ornaments. The sarabande, like most of its siblings in these suites, contains some of the most harmonically complex and deeply-felt music of the set. A gigue featuring trills in each hand concludes the suite. Again, I have a special and long acquaintance with the second suite.
It probably constitutes my first exposure to highly-contrapuntal music. When I heard the clarion opening, it seemed to me that time had become a wind-up car which some invisible hand jerked backwards and released to start again — a vivid impression then, and one that has stayed with me.
English Suite No.5 in E minor, BWV (Bach, Johann Sebastian) .. Prélude; Allemande; Courante; Sarabande; Passepied I; Passepied II; Gigue. Year/Date. The English Suites, BWV –, are a set of six suites written by the German composer 5th Suite in E minor, BWV Prelude, Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, Passepied I, Passepied II, Gigue. 6th Suite in D minor, BWV Prelude.
Hewitt in general takes an airy approach to the suites, even whimsical at times, that mostly serves her very well. Not here.
Her lightness of touch not only brings a false character to this music, I sense that her slightly speedy tempo causes her to overemphasize the top line in the right hand almost all the time. I don't get enough of the imitation in the left hand, let alone its genuine themes like the upward octave leap and the offbeat scalar fall.
The prelude becomes superficial, a trait I have never before associated with her playing. The allemande rights the performance.
Many pianists can't wait to get through it. Without slogging through, Hewitt creates an extremely sensitive dialogue between the outer parts. Slight hesitations on specific notes deepen the conversation, without crossing over to hokum. The sarabande may be my favorite of its type in the set, perhaps due to its minor key. It breaks my heart every time I hear it. Hewitt's emotional simplicity and directness, spurning the temptation to over-inflate, strikes deep. She takes it faster than most, but rather than looking shallow in comparison, she makes other pianists come off as a bit pretentious.
It's a crazy ride that seems to braid its two main lines together. Your ears may feel pulled in two different directions or your eyes may cross. Many writers have pointed out that the prelude of the third suite is really a concerto grosso in disguise, with clearly distinct concertato and ripieno sections. It opens with the note-by-note buildup of a full g-minor chord by successive imitative entries.
This also creates a crescendo as more and more notes sound. However, one marks the danger of a rather thick texture.
Many pianists turn the piece to mud. Hewitt's in her element, however. She keeps things light by not shooting the works right away. She distinguishes between the "orchestra" and the "soloist" not merely by dynamic, but by subtly-different colors. The mass sounds like strings; the solo like a harpsichord.
The balance among all the voices is perfect. The important line at any particular time always takes precedence without obliterating the secondary parts. She shapes an elegant movement.
I particularly enjoyed her transition to the recap. The recap itself enters at a higher dynamic than its initial statement, thus showing off Hewitt's architectural smarts. Furthermore, even at the higher dynamic, the texture remains free of murk. In the allemande, Bach begins the main idea in the left hand, rather than the right, but Hewitt doesn't bring this out enough.
In the second part of the dance, he flips the subject upside-down. Hewitt moves the courante along with a strong, impulsive line, full of chioscuro and, again, gradients of color. Once again, Hewitt's sarabande stands out as a highlight of the set. She actually repeats the entire thing twice — the second time with Bach's elaborations. The sarabande is a rather slow dance anyway and can easily get to be too much of a good thing.
Hewitt invests her reading with elegant melancholy and keeps her grip on a listener's attention. Her ornaments sound made-up on the spot, as if she's closely involved with the implications of Bach's twists. The following pair of gavotte and musette derived from the drones of country music; a pedal note sounds throughout, in this case, G provides a light break before the fugal gigue finale.
The great thing about Bach's fugues isn't that they're fugues, but that they're exciting music. The music so cuts loose, you can easily forget that you're dancing within such a defined space. The fourth suite trades in irresistible delight.
I spent a year trying to learn to play it. I got the simpler movements but passages in the prelude and in the gigue eluded me. In college, my music-school friends told me of an incident in their orchestration class. The professor had given them the job of scoring a piano piece. Three class members turned up with movements from this suite, including one of my buddies, who had taken on the gigue. The prelude strikes me as Bach in one of his Italian-concerto virtuoso moods, although, in contrast to the third suite, the textures are not particularly concerto-like.
The first part consists of two main ideas: an ascending line of sixteenths and a "tan-ta-ra" rhythm, both part of the first theme. Entrances are, for the most part, imitative. Of the two, the sixteenths assume the greater importance, since their pulse courses through the entire movement. The argument is a marvel of ease and ingenuity as the line of sixteenths weaves itself into varying configurations and the "tan-ta-ra" runs against it. Essentially, the main theme folds in on itself throughout the course of the first part.
Part two also takes two ideas: the first a "trick of the ear," three parts magically appearing from two; the second again a rhythm, "dum-da-da-dum. Availability: Available. Release Date: Genres: Baroque , Classical. Barcode: Packaging: Digipak.
Catalog Number: PSC Description Ketil Haugsand's recordings for Simax of music by, amongst others, of works by J. Bach and Forqueray have consolidated his position as one of the leading harpsichord players of recent years. Add to Basket.