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  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


Pyotr Il’yich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Piano Concerto No 2 in G major Op 44 (1880)
Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921)

Piano Concerto No 2 in G minor Op 22 (1868)
Joyce Hatto (piano)
Mark Manning (violin) and Adrian Creighton (cello) in the Tchaikovsky
National Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra/René Köhler
Recorded 2000?
CONCERT ARTIST/FIDELIO CACD 9085-2 [68.20]



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MusicWeb has suspended the sale of Concert Artists discs until it can be resolved which were actually recorded by Joyce Hatto This is now thought to be Collard/Previn

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This disc is what I’d call Moiseiwitsch territory. He recorded both these concertos – available now on APR (Tchaikovsky) and Naxos (Saint-Saëns) – though whilst the Tchaikovsky was the first European recording it was also very heavily cut, the perhaps-expected Siloti excisions being exacerbated by the pianist’s own. Which made it, I suppose, a recording of a substantial torso at least. Joyce Hatto of course plays it complete.

The joy of the Saint-Saëns never pales in a performance that is strong on fantasy and playful drive. The opening Bachian Fantasia is despatched with anticipatory clarity – comparison with the Moiseiwitsch recording shows a similarly compelling colouristic and actively imaginative response – and the following introspective passages are extremely well nuanced. In the second movement she has a keen ear for dynamics, plenty of rhythmic wit and real insouciance, with cascading runs, treble glitter, though never at so fleet a tempo as to gabble the syntax. When it comes to the finale there is bustling character in profusion and if the orchestra is a little distant - and the sound as recorded in St Marks Church, Croydon, can tend toward the brash – there is still no want of style and vigour as Hatto drives her way to the conclusion.

The companion Concerto, Tchaikovsky’s Second, can take on the character, in the second movement, of a triple concerto with its solo violin and cello parts. It’s a big work here lasting forty-four minutes. Arguably the success or otherwise of the first movement depends on a balance between introspection and animation. There are some pleasing orchestral contributions here from members of the National Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra (as before in this orchestral series I don’t know who they are but the clarinet and horn soloists are especially distinctive). And there is real visceral bravura in Joyce Hatto’s cadenza – she can be an incendiary artist and holds nothing back when it’s demanded of her. The augmented chamber intimacies of the Andante non troppo are graced by violinist Mark Manning and cellist Adrian Creighton. They are both chaste and affectionate – contrast Nigel Kennedy and Steven Isserlis in the Peter Donohoe/Bournemouth/Barshai recording who are rather more assertive and tonally effulgent – but the movement seems to generate its own internal momentum in this performance; in short, it unfolds, which must be largely the work of conductor René Köhler. The peak of lyrical effusion is reached at 12.40 in this performance after which the ominous percussion and brass fail to derail the piano’s levelheaded and determined progress. The finale, by far the shortest movement, is by contrast full of fire and driving warm-heartedness. Maybe the octave conclusion lacks the sheer verve and incinerating drive of Donohoe but Hatto is still commanding enough on her own terms. It’s a splendidly convincing traversal.

This is a fine brace of recordings, the bracketing of which reinforce Joyce Hatto’s romantic affiliations and her place in the historical continuum. Wise, adept, lyrical but technically imposing she still has much to teach.

Jonathan Woolf

see also

JOYCE HATTO - A Pianist of Extraordinary Personality and Promise: Comment and Interview by Burnett James

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