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Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

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Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847)
Piano Concerto No.1 in G minor Op.25 (1831)
Piano Concerto No.2 in D minor Op.40 (1837)
Andante and Rondo Capriccioso Op.14 (1824)
Joyce Hatto (piano)
The National Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra/René Köhler
Recorded Concerto No.1 and 2 plus Capriccio brillant at St.Marks Church, Croydon 2-3 January 1997
Andante and Rondo Capriccioso Recorded at Concert Artist Studios, Cambridge, 14 September 1999 

There is some sparkling pianism here. The First Concerto responds immediately to Hatto’s brio, her dynamic rhythms, sharply but musically etched, and that wonderful tone of hers. The left hand lines subtly animate the opening movement and whilst she drives quite fast, her elasticity is such that she can easily relax; her rubati are never obtrusive. What I also like is her sense of humour, those little pecks she imparts to the line and the way in which she brings Mozartian clarity to her playing. The romantic voicings of the slow movement are most impressive, the shadings and tonal balance entirely at the service of the music whereas when she launches the finale there’s plenty of drama. What’s also there of course, as one has by now learned to expect, is proper balancing between hands, as well as a saucy enjoyment of Mendelssohn’s wit. Frolicsome and lissom, she leads away to the conclusion, the orchestra playing its fine and committed part under René Köhler.

Praise also for the Second. She shapes the melodies wonderfully well, plays lightly not portentously, eschewing the falsity of feeling that some pianists are apt to impose on these works and has the digital clarity and the sense of lyricism to play quietly whilst never playing unfeelingly. As ever in the slow movement her tonal weight is sagacious, her sense of direction sure, relaxation of tempi monitored with just propriety. And the finale – in a word, exciting. The "makeweights" prove fine. Of them I particularly nourished the Andante of the Andante and Rondo Capriccioso – such limpid tracery.

The notes are full and fine, recorded sound just, though there are occasions when the orchestra sounds a mite recessed, and Joyce Hatto’s playing frequently memorable.

Jonathan Woolf

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