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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


Franz LISZT (1811-1886)
The Complete Works Inspired by J S Bach – Volume 2

Prelude after Bach’s Weinen, Klagen (1859) [6.16]
Variations on Weinen, Klagen (1875) [16.37]
Fantasy and Fugue on B-A-C-H (1870) [12.32]
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)

Partita No.6 BWV 830 [26.58]
Toccata in F sharp minor BWV910 (1720) [13.10]
Joyce Hatto (piano)
Recorded at the Concert Artists Studios, Cambridge, November 2004 (Liszt) and June 1992 (Bach)

This is the second in the Liszt-Bach series from Concert Artist though its hyphenated inspiration appears to have led to dichotomous results here. The works inspired by Bach take up approximately half of the disc. There is Bach pure and unadulterated in the shape of the Sixth Partita and the F sharp minor Toccata..

Never mind, the musical performances are untainted by nomenclature. It also helps that these are works – including the Bach – that are not well represented in the current catalogues, a situation I find puzzling but which makes this entrant all the more welcome. The Prelude after Bach’s Weinen, Klagen exemplifies Joyce Hatto’s unostentatious control of express minutiae fused with long-term structural considerations. There is clarity, as we have come to expect, no fudging of technical problems, fine attention to textual matters; diminuendi, powerful voicings – in short, passionate but controlled.

The grandiose digital demands of the Variations on Weinen, Klagen, written by Liszt sixteen years later, are fully met. Power and introspection are held in equilibrium; there’s colour and weight of finger action, and real precision over matters such as chordal balance. The leonine and the dramatic indeed unfold with serious dignity. In the Fantasy of the Fantasy and Fugue on B-A-C-H one can admire the sure sense of space amidst the paragraphs and the weighty silences; the contrast with the coruscating fugal playing that follows couldn’t be more sharply etched. There’s some implacable virtuosity here.

It’s puzzling that there are so few contenders in the current Partita catalogues in which No.6 is rather poorly represented (No.1 fares equally poorly). Hatto approaches it with appreciable control of its mood and character. There’s precision in her voicings of the opening Toccata for instance but its gravity is allowed to "tell" and there’s real delicacy of articulacy in the Courante at a graciously flowing tempo, melodic strands properly etched. Her Sarabande has a rather restless feel and there’s a grandly concluding Gigue. The multi-sectional Toccata in F sharp minor, another piece less than luxuriantly featured in current catalogues, responds well to the drama and fluid understanding Hatto brings to bear. It’s not at all easy to present this as an entity, with a sense of fracture often apparent, but those dangers are not a consideration in this performance.

The recorded sound is well judged; neither too enveloping nor too distant, a natural sounding perspective in fact and the notes cover all the pieces performed.

Jonathan Woolf




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