Angela Hewitt

Angela HewittBach spent six years as Kapellmeister to Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Cothen, and this period saw, firstly, a move away from church music towards secular work, and, secondly, a chance for Bach to spend plenty of time giving his children a musical education. One of the most well-known works to come out of this period is the Well-Tempered Clavier, a collection of Preludes designed to provide musical and technical training for the keyboard student.
 
While it would without doubt be a treat to see calm, benign baroque keyboards offering tea and biscuits to passers-by, the term Well-Tempered in fact refers to the way in which the instrument has been tuned.  It's a tricky term to define, but worth having a crack at as it illuminates part of the reason for this collection of Preludes. Program notes for this concert state that  "tuning a keyboard instrument always has to be  a compromise, because the intervals of a perfect fifth and a perfect third are incompatible with each other and with a pure octave". We're told that in Bach's day, most people went for a a tuning system that gave sweet sounds in some keys, but sour notes and strangeness in others. Gradually people began to opt for a more equal tuning system that worked a good compromise across all keys in which music was written. Hence the 'Well-Tempered'. The collection of Preludes are each different in style, shade, and technical requirements. It offers the player a great challenge, to make the music work across the keys, to make it light, clear, and beautiful to listen to in all its shades.
 
Angela Hewitt appeared as one of many performing artists taking part in the 2008 Musica Viva Festival, and the foreword for this concert observes that Bach's music requires sprightliness, clarity, rapidity, warmth, strength and subtle shadings that have to be matched by both instrument and player.  Hewitt's performance of Book One of the Well-Tempered Clavier demonstrated a masterful achievement of this. Her lightness of touch, musicality and great technical skill show her to be a true artist.
 
This is precise, intelligent music, one could say almost restrained. This is not the head-tossing high octane passionate music of giant orchestras and epic Operas, but more understated and thoughtful, and it offers its own rewards.
 
If you haven't heard the very first Prelude in Book One, (and, come to think of it, you probably have on various commercials without realising!), I really recommend looking it up and having a listen. It's only around two minutes long, but it is one of the most pure, simple and moving pieces of music I have experienced in a long time - sad, sorrowful, but hopeful.
 
When Bach took up his appointment at Anhalt-Cothen, I hope someone bought Prince Leopold and his advisors a round of drinks.


ANGELA HEWITT AUSTRALIAN TOUR EVENTS - OCTOBER 2008

PERTH
Presented by the Perth International Arts Festival
Bookings: BOCS Ticketing (08) 9484 1133 or www.perthfestival.com.au
 
Monday 6 October, 7.30pm
Perth Concert Hall, 5 St Georges Terrace, Perth
Recital: JS Bach - The Well-tempered Clavier, Book I, BWV846-869
 
Tuesday 7 October, 7.30pm
Perth Concert Hall, 5 St Georges Terrace, Perth
Recital: JS Bach - The Well-tempered Clavier, Book II, BWV870-893
 
SYDNEY
Presented by Musica Viva Australia, as part of the inaugural Musica Viva Festival
Bookings: Musica Viva 1800 688 482 or www.musicaviva.com.au
Thursday 9 October, 4pm – 6pm
Barnet Long Room, Customs House, 31 Alfred Street, Circular Quay
Exploring Music: JS Bach’s The Well-tempered Clavier
Susan Deas & Dorottya Fabian, presenters

Thursday 9 October, 7.30pm – 10pm
City Recital Hall Angel Place (access from Pitt or George Streets), Sydney
Recital: JS Bach - The Well-tempered Clavier, Book 1, BWV846-869
(Musica Viva Festival Premier Concert 3)

Friday 10 October, 10am – 1pm
Barnet Long Room, Customs House, 31 Alfred Street, Circular Quay
Masterclass: Australian Youth Orchestra Chamber Musicians
Angela Hewitt with AYO piano trios

Friday 10 October, 4pm – 6pm
Justice & Police Museum, Cnr Phillip & Albert Streets, Circular Quay
Exploring Music: Angela Hewitt in Conversation, Mary Kostakidis, presenter

Saturday 11 October , 1.30pm – 4.30pm
City Recital Hall Angel Place (access from Pitt or George Streets), Sydney
Recital: JS Bach - The Well-tempered Clavier, Book II, BWV870-893
(Musica Viva Festival Premier Concert 5)

ADELAIDE
Presented by Multiple Sclerosis Society SA & NT, ER Management and Recitals Australia

Monday 13 October, 2.00pm
Elder Hall, University of Adelaide, North Terrace
Bach Lecture/Demonstration
Tickets available at the door, $15 adult / $10 concession and students

Tuesday 14 October, 7.00pm
Adelaide Town Hall, 128 King William Street
Recital: JS Bach - The Well-tempered Clavier, Book II, BWV870-893
Bookings: BASS 131 246 or www.bass.net.au
 
MELBOURNE
Presented by Impresaria
Bookings: Margaret Farren-Price (Impresaria) (03) 9348 0863 or

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Friday 17 October 10.00am
Australian National Academy of Music, 210 Bank Street, South Melbourne
Public Masterclass
Masterclass Bookings: Tickets available at the door.
 
Saturday 18 October 2.00pm
Melba Hall, University Of Melbourne
Recital: JS Bach - The Well-tempered Clavier, Book I, BWV846-869

Sunday 19 October 7.00 pm
Melba Hall, University Of Melbourne
Recital: JS Bach - The Well-tempered Clavier, Book II, BWV870-893

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