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GRAMOPHONE (October / 2017)
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Reviewer: Jed Distler 

For her second Scarlatti release, Angela Hewitt partitions 17 sonatas into five distinctly contrasted but well-integrated sub-groups, although an overall game plan seems to govern the recital as a whole; it begins majestically and concludes in quiet desolation.

The opening D major Sonata, Kk491, makes an almost orchestral impact, not through loudness but on account of Hewitt’s variegated articulations and voicings. It leads into the familiar D major, Kk492, which stands out for vividly characterised details, such as unusually heightened scales. Hewitt’s well-oiled trills and subtle timing make the G major Kk146 sound faster than it actually is, while the A major Kk24’s repeated-note phrases and rapid scales might be described as contained turbulence.

Hewitt’s sensitive voice-leading and harmonic pointing throughout the E major, Kk206, justifies her full observation of the repeats (it lasts nine and a half minutes), yet the shorter A major Sonatas, Kk428 and Kk429, are no less meticulously considered. The G major ‘Capriccio’ and D minor ‘Gavota’ embody like-minded swagger in Hewitt’s hands. In her typically insightful booklet notes, Hewitt rightly claims that the austere G minor Kk426’s pauses are as expressive as its notes, as the pianist’s performance bears out. That said, Naxos’s Gerda Struhal obtains more lilt and animation through her occasional staccato articulation of the bass line.

Also notice Hewitt’s scrupulously matched trills in the E flat, Kk474, the fluid dignity she brings to the ricercarelike C minor, Kk458, and her awesomely controlled diminuendos in the F major Kk382’s theme statements. And in contrast to Alexis Weissenberg’s courtly grace, the darker deliberation of Hewitt’s F minor, Kk481, truly reveals the music’s inward cry. In short, this release attests to Hewitt’s deep affinity for Scarlatti, her exemplary musicianship and her gifts as a programme-builder.

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