Schubert sonatas

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  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

MusicWeb has suspended the sale of Concert Artists discs until it can be resolved which were actually recorded by Joyce Hatto


Franz LISZT (1811-1886)
The Complete Studies-Volume 2
Three Concert Studies (1848)

Il Lamento in A flat
La Leggierezza in F minor
Un Sospiro in D flat
Two Concert Studies (1862/63)

Six Études d’Éxecution Transcendante d’après Paganini
Joyce Hatto (piano)
Recorded at the Concert Artist Studios November 1998 to January 1999

I reviewed Joyce Hatto’s Douze Études d’exécution transcendante S.139, part of her Liszt series for Concert Artist, and she made a powerful impression. The second volume of the studies confirms those qualities of digital control, architectural sculpting and sensitive musicianship.

In Waldesrauschen for instance she seems to me to cleave to a rich Lisztian tradition that reaches back to Lamond. There is no want of fantasy or drama but the accents are crisp, the tempo bracing, direction is impelled through musical argument, pedal use is relatively sparing and there’s a fine sense of arching intensity. It’s certainly the case that she reminds one much more of the Lamond-Bauer school of Liszt playing than do the later recordings of an almost exact contemporary of hers such as Sergio Fiorentino. Those perceptions are sharpened by her equally fluent and fleet Gnomenreigen where her passagework is translucently clear – no fudging of runs for Hatto. Un Sospiro is unusually intimate and withdrawn, quite slow this time with tonal extremes avoided in the interests of concentration and control. As a result the right hand becomes more subservient to the homogeneity of her approach, though there’s no lack of agility and volatile playing in the left hand when occasion demands. This is individual and sensitive playing, with the peaks and troughs of the musical argument perceptively judged.

The Paganini Études contain the usual cornucopia of pianistic difficulty rising to the point of knuckle whitening complexity. Hatto has mastered the octave minefield of the E flat as she has La Chasse’s arpeggios. There is a sang froid about her playing that seems not to defy the demands but to absorb them. How many times has a leonine virtuoso tossed off La Campanella with rubato-straining, panache–wielding, jaw-strutting, eyeball-rolling drama – but how often has he controlled the trills with as much graded acuteness and musicality as Hatto? Or indeed implied the quasi-pizzicati of the Theme and Variations with as much natural refinement?

These recordings were set down in 1998 and 1999 and are in good, natural sound. They reflect well on Hatto’s sensitive approach to the repertoire.

Jonathan Woolf

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