Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
When one is assigned to play Bach on the piano, one faces a choice - to play Bach, or to play piano. Sunday night in the National Gallery, young Canadian pianist Angela Hewitt managed to do both, though the emphasis was more on the instrument than the composer.
Her version of the Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue in D Minor showed the kind of technical and expressive resources that made her a winner in the 1975 Johann Sebastian Bach International Competition (she won three other prizes that year). But the dynamics and pedaling, abetted by the East Garden Court's resonant acoustics, would hardly have let a casual listener suspect that the music was written originally for the harpsichord.
The approach was equally romanticized in Hayden's last great sonata, the E-flat of 1974, and in Schumann's "Abegg" Variations, where it was appropriate. In the program's final work, the Liszt B-minor Sonata, her formidable technique and considerable musical insight encountered material fully suited to them, and the effect was splendid.
She also played the brief, intense and intricate "Poem" of Steven Gellman as though it had been written for her - as in fact it was.