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Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Piano Sonata No. 4 in A minor D537 (1817)
Piano Sonata No. 18 in G major D894 (1826)
Joyce Hatto (piano)
Recorded Concert Artist Studios, Cambridge, February 1999 and May 2000
Piano Works Volume 3
CONCERT ARTIST/FIDELIO RECORDINGS CACD 9065-2 [69.58]


Joyce Hatto’s Schubert Sonata cycle is remarkably consistent in its response to the expressive and technical demands placed upon the performer. Her articulation in the early A minor for example is exemplary in its evenness of production and clarity whilst the Allegretto quasi Andante lilts delightfully, its contrasting section quite slowly but persuasively taken. There is assuredly attractive colour and direction in the finale with witty little caesurae. The disc’s G major companion is a considerably bigger and more powerful work. Measured, not nearly so clipped of phrasing as someone like Wilhelm Kempff, Hatto binds the structure of the long opening movement (complete of course with repeat) with fluency and skill. As was the case in the second volume of the series there are strong disparities between Kempffian cantabile in Schubert’s slow movements and Hatto’s sense of pleasurable intimacy. A corollary is that Kempff will seize powerfully and strikingly on contrasting or trio section, often incrementally increasing his dynamic range and tempi to a startling degree, far more in fact than Hatto is prepared to countenance. Whilst there is certainly no loss of rupture or fissure at these moments Hatto is more determined to bind the rhetoric together, for a degree at least of tonal and dynamic consonance.

Characterisation is a prerogative of a pianist in something like the Menuetto of the G major; where Kempff finds a pompous gait, Hatto locates a more briskly shaped determinism. And where in the Allegretto finale Kempff mines a winning and capricious flirtatiousness Hatto is more measured and sanguine in her response. As before the performances benefit from the sympathetic acoustic – warm but not cloying – and the fine notes, which are uniform for this series and written by Musicweb contributor William Hedley.

Jonathan Woolf

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