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Jean Tews was a Canadian pianist who studied alongside Glenn Gould and Mario Bernardi. She died in 1993 after a battle with cancer; these two releases are part of a series of six discs of late recordings released for the first time in 2018 and available via Tews’ website: www.jeantewspiano.com.

Tews’ Bach is luminous and variegated. While the influence of Gould is instantly detectable, Tews has her own way, the frequent illuminations fully taking advantage of her Kawai EX piano. Suffusing the entire interpretation is a quiet underlying dignity that refuses excess in any area; pedalling is a model of its kind yet consistently imaginative. The gentle lilt of the seventh variation is perfect and she finds just the right pathos for Variation 21; most remarkable is the ‘full stop’ at the end of Variation 24 before the exploratory No 25 gets underway, as if to emphasise stepping into new territory. Just occasionally there is a slight sag in tension (the Ouverture, Variation 16) and moments when articulation could be a touch clearer, but this remains a significant Goldberg Variations.

The Brahms Intermezzi receive a tender, intelligent performance. Tews is careful not to over-pedal yet retains the essence of late Brahms; if Charles Owen (Avie AV2397) penetrates deeper, it is a clever idea to juxtapose three Intermezzi from thee different collections, although placing Op 118/6 centrally does rather rob it of its culminatory effect.

The Brahms Waltzes are an absolute delight (as is her single Chopin Waltz), and Tews’ Chopin Nocturne Op 9/1 contains great beauty; her Berceuse, however, does sag somewhat. The so-calledCello’ Etude and a swift ‘Raindrop’ both have eloquence on their side, while Mendelssohn’s contained expression in Op 62/1 suits Tews to a tee.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica


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