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Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Piano Sonata No. 16 in A minor D845 (1825)
Piano Sonata No. 19 in C minor D958 (1828)
Joyce Hatto (piano)
Recorded Concert Artist Studios, Cambridge, October 1998
Piano Works Volume 2
CONCERT ARTIST/FIDELIO RECORDINGS CACD 9064-2 [70.23]


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.

Itís 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 performances.

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 movementís 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 dynamism.

The measured warmth of the Studio acoustic suits Hattoís performances very well and there are fine notes from William Hedley.

Jonathan Woolf


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