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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

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Frederic CHOPIN (1810-1849)
Piano Concerto No 1 in E minor Op 11 (1830)
Piano Concerto No 2 in F minor Op 21 (1829)
Joyce Hatto (piano)
The Philharmonia Orchestra of Warsaw/René Köhler
Recorded in Watford Town Hall October 1994
CONCERT ARTIST/FIDELIO CACD 9082-2 [72.19]

This is the fifth volume in Joyce Hatto’s complete Chopin edition. A piano pupil of Serge Krish she also studied composition with Mátyás Seiber and with Hindemith, subsequently receiving some advanced guidance from Cortot. On record she is perhaps best remembered for her Bax, which I hope will soon be restored to the catalogue, but Concert Artist/Fidelio has recently recorded her in a slew of works – not just Chopin, but a harvest of Brahms and much else; see their website (noted above) for more information because Hatto releases are coming thick and fast.

It’s not simply because of some residual recollection of Cortot’s imperishable way with Chopin I’m sure that makes Hatto’s own playing so intriguing. She possesses a singular virtue, which I can best define as a sense of concentrated space, and she amply demonstrates its application in the Allegro maestoso of the E minor. She makes chords count and notes take their place in the considered order of things. There is no lax or decorative prettifying of the line, though there is generosity and simplicity in abundance, but rather a concentrated and accumulated wisdom in both touch and phrasing. This she can quite sternly contrast with moments of abrasion (as in the same opening movement) thus generating and demonstrating proper contrastive material. Her runs are securely and expertly weighted. She has a beautiful tone. In the Romance she is successful at bringing out the sense of occasional fantasy as well as a delightfully generous sensitivity to nuance and colour and in the Rondo finale all is well; graciousness and well characterized humour lace the score. The balance favours her here and the orchestra lacks body and immediacy but not enough to impede the jaunty climax of a most satisfying traversal of this by no means easy work. In the F minor those virtues that illuminated the E minor are palpably on display. Sometimes in performance one feels that the Maestoso opening movement lacks cohesion, becomes sectional; not here. Hatto has an impressive sense of architectural line and her fluency and sense of definable direction, of the rise and fall of the music, are most impressive. Delicacy of touch and poetic nuance light the Larghetto from within but never at the expense of rhythmic spine; with Joyce Hatto poetic insight is always accompanied by secure compositional awareness. The finale is suitably energized and convincing.

These recordings were set down over a two-day period, 5th and 6th October 1994, at a favoured Concert Artist/Fidelio recording location, Watford Town Hall. The results are poetic and enjoyable, full of fluency and deftness; more than these even, they are full of musical understanding.

Jonathan Woolf

see also

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

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