An artist comes home: Angela Hewitt’s new CD with the NAC Orchestra

Internationally praised as one of the great all-time interpreters of Bach, Canadian virtuoso pianist Angela Hewitt strikes the final note in her concert with the NAC Orchestra. © Fred Cattroll
Canadian superstar pianist Angela Hewitt and guest conductor Hannu Lintu have a shorthand communication that is lovely to observe in concert, and was apparent during the CD recording sessions at the National Arts Centre. © Fred Cattroll
Angela Hewitt reacts to the generous sense of humour of Finnish conductor Hannu Lintu in one of the rehearsals before the recorded concert. © Fred Cattroll
Hannu Lintu consults with NAC Orchestra Principal bassoonist Christopher Millard on interpreting the Mozart score. Great conversations were had in the shaping of the sound of this new NAC Orchestra CD. © Fred Cattroll
After taking their bows onstage, Angela Hewitt, conductor Hannu Lintu, and producer Ludger Böckenhoff raced to listen to the recorded tracks. Their excitement was palpable; they didn’t waste time changing out of concert dress. © Fred Cattroll
Canadian pianist Angela Hewitt bows to a sold-out audience for her CD recording concerts at the National Arts Centre. “It’s my home,” Ms. Hewitt remarked of the NAC. © Fred Cattroll

Angela Hewitt and Mozart: can you think of a more pleasing duo?  This month, a new live concert recording is released, and you can indulge in this captured live musical experience yourself. The international recording artist launches her new Mozart CD nation-wide June 10th – a CD she recorded with the NAC Orchestra in two concerts in July 2013. The CD is available in the iTunes music store.

With impeccable mastery and a highly sought-after sound, Ms. Hewitt collaborates with multiple international orchestras and conductors. For this CD – part of her quest to record the works of Mozart – she chose Canada’s national orchestra, for its warm sound and the strength and musicality of its principal musicians.

The musicians of the NAC Orchestra were up for it. In two days, they rehearsed, went over scores, and wowed audience members in two sold-out evening concerts. Finnish conductor Hannu Lintu – one of the Orchestra musicians’ favourite guest conductors, was his incredibly focused, animated self on the podium.

The NAC Orchestra is an “excellent Mozart orchestra.”

“He impresses me with his great energy on the podium and the way he gets the very best results from an orchestra without wasting time,” Ms. Hewitt remarked to an Ottawa reporter. She added that the NAC Orchestra is an “excellent Mozart orchestra,” explaining that their solid mastery and knowledge of the repertoire left her ample room for the grace notes and her own expression.

The evenings were full of beautiful, beautiful Mozart – Piano Concerto No. 22 and Piano Concerto No. 24. The audience loved watching the sparkling, radiant Hewitt so obviously in her element – playing her beloved Fazioli grand piano onstage at the NAC. Smiles to orchestra musicians, eye contact with conductor, performance sublime.

After the first concert, Hannu and Angela raced to the makeshift recording studio set up in the basement of the NAC, beneath the stage, to go over the tracks with producer Ludger Böckenhoff. The listening sessions, fuelled by Kettleman’s bagels, fruit and chocolate and a bit of red wine, lasted well into the night. Notes were made, plans hatched, and the next evening, the entire concert was recorded again, in front of a second sold-out NAC audience. Again, the three raced to listen to the tracks: “Did we catch it this time?” was the question asked of a specific passage: “Yes! There it is. Gorgeous!” What tiny nuance they were hearing, we may never know. But it was so exciting to watch them work. With the release of the CD June 10th, Canadians, and indeed classical music fans around the globe, can enjoy the result.

“The NAC is my home.”

“The NAC is my home,” Ms. Hewitt has said. It’s a simple statement by the internationally-celebrated Canadian artist, but one that puts a fine point on her fondness for everything that the National Arts Centre does – in creating music education, in nurturing and providing a stage for young Canadian artists, and in expressing – to her world-wide audience  – a deep connection with Canada.

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