Over the past decade Joyce Hatto has recorded Chopin’s
piano music complete – visit the Concert Artist website for details.
For those unwilling to invest in such a large scale purchase, here is
the first of a few mixed recitals drawn from the series. Fair enough
except that, if you think you do not want the complete cycle, you might
change your mind after hearing this disc. One way or another, make sure
you get at least some of Joyce Hatto’s Chopin, because it’s pretty enthralling.
Hatto’s teachers included that great and free-spirited
Chopin player, Alfred Cortot, followed by a period in Warsaw with Drzewiecki.
Poland, in fact, seems to be the country outside the UK where she has
been most frequently heard. She is often closer to the score than most
other interpreters – the rests in the Scherzo are all counted out exactly
and the lyrical theme swings in at precisely the tempo set at the opening.
But within this generally straight approach she has a rubato that lives
and breathes and the actual effect is of great freedom. The music sings
and soars as it should. She encompasses, too, the wide range of moods
in this programme, from the imperious Scherzo to the grace of the op.
64/3 Waltz, the sparkle of the Rondo and the extreme melancholy of some
of the Mazurkas. The Nocturne is quite magical and my only relative
disappointment is that the Polonaise is sturdy and majestic but not
Those hardest of all Chopin pieces, the Mazurkas, which
it is sometimes claimed that only a Pole can interpret rightly, sound
perfectly paced to my non-Polish ears and since we have both Mazurkas
and Waltzes on the disc we can hear how very different the two are,
even when the slower Waltzes and the faster Mazurkas go at about the
Personally, I have to regard this disc as simply a
trailer for the complete cycle, which I am eager to hear (at present
I have the Mazurkas awaiting review). But if you are sure that a selection
will be enough for you, this is as good an introduction to Chopin as
any – don’t think that this is a lesser product because the pianist
isn’t a "great name"; I’m beginning to get the impression
that she should be. The recording is warm if a little recessed; better
that than aggressively upfront. The mistakes in the work listing, noted
above, should have been avoided. Imagine how you would feel if you were
a young student working at op. 17/1 and you bought this disc to hear
a model performance of it, only to find it wasn’t there.
- A Pianist of Extraordinary Personality and Promise Comment and Interview
by Burnett James
can offer the complete Concert