No less than her recordings
of Rachmaninov and Chopin, Joyce Hatto
seems imbued with the Schubertian muse.
There are so far four CDs on Concert
Artists devoted to her recordings of
the (completed, non-torso) Sonatas and
all show her technique and instincts
to be formidable. I would characterise
her playing of the Sonatas as full of
light. That is not to tax her with diminution
of the more severe, complex and dark
aspects of the music but rather to point
out that she avoids seeing Schubert
through a glass, darkly. Her playing
is not that of a musician who is willing
to subscribe to the portentous and death-shrouded.
Even in the last Sonatas she is careful
to avoid over-pointing. In matters of
architecture she invariably takes repeats.
It’s constructive to
contrast her playing with that of say
Wilhelm Kempff. He adopts a more quicksilver
approach to the opening Moderato of
the A minor with a capricious profile.
His changeability and malleability is
not mirrored by Hatto who sees in the
music a less frivolous consonance if
you like; her slower tempi and more
bass-up sonority certainly contrast
with his leaner sense of direction.
In the slow movement his more romanticised
legato again contrasts with her more
staccato phrasing as she etches things
very publicly; his introversion and
her extroversion marking the absolute
point of distinction between the two
In the C minor one
finds Kempff brusque, staccato and forbidding
whilst Hatto is more portentous with
an exceptional clarity in her left hand.
Tempestuous though flowing she is especially
fine at locating the opening movement’s
unsettled core. In the Adagio Kempff
favours a relative degree of limpidity
at a forward moving tempo; Hatto is
slower and tends to stretch things almost
to breaking point. It takes considerable
technical accomplishment and control
of dynamics to phrase in this way, even
though I favour his greater sense of
phrasal continuity. She is powerfully
in control of the rhetoric of the Allegro
finale, with its clipped staccati and
The measured warmth
of the Studio acoustic suits Hatto’s
performances very well and there are
fine notes from William Hedley.
Full list of Concert Artist recordings