The recital given in Israel by Angela Hewitt, the Canadian-born pianist now resident in England, was an occasion not to be missed. Accordingly, we timed our return from Paris to coincide with the day of the concert. And so we were able to join the audience in Jerusalem’s packed YMCA auditorium to hear Ms. Hewitt play two of Bach’s English Suites (nos. 3 and 6) and two sonatas by Beethoven (nos. 18 and 24).
At a piano recital at the same venue a couple of years ago the distinguished pianist Stephen Kovachevich stopped playing after the first five minutes and complained that he was feeling cold, and that “it’s difficult to play when your fingers are cold.” The heating on the stage was promptly turned higher, and Mr. Kovachevich went on to give a stellar recital.
Consequently, although we felt perfectly warm, we were slightly worried when Ms. Hewitt walked onto the stage wearing a very elegant, and slightly revealing, evening dress. However, the temperature seemed to suit her very well, as she sat down and began to play without demur, much to our relief. I suspect that all that hard work at the piano tends to make one feel quite warm — something like a work-out at the gym.
From the very first moment that Ms. Hewitt’s fingers touched the keys one felt that one was in the presence of a magical being, one who was able to produce sounds that were both powerful and gentle, one who played with a mixture of authority and tenderness that brought an extra quality to the notes. To hear Ms. Hewitt play Bach and Beethoven with a technical virtuosity that seems almost inhuman, combining this with sensitivity and nobility of character, is an experience not to be missed.
In addition to her superb technical mastery, Ms. Hewitt’s warm personality shone through her playing, providing the music with an additional dimension. As she played she seemed to be transported to another world — and so were we.
After the official programme, at the audience’s request, Ms. Hewitt generously played two encores, and the audience would have stayed for more, but as we were taught as children, all good things must come to an end. And so we went out into the snowy Jerusalem night feeling warmed by the golden sounds still rippling in our ears.