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Part 1
Complete list of Joyce hatto recordings available for purchase through MusicWeb

Joyce Hatto THE RECORDINGS

 

‘She makes music without imposed superlatives’

Frank Siebert, Fono Forum, June 2004

© Vivienne of London 1970

 

Joyce’s recording career divides broadly into two periods, the second comprising the Concert Artist releases. Of the differences of personality and person between the two, she says:

‘When I was young, people told me I had two speeds, quick and bloody quick.’ [RD] In Warsaw, and later in London, I had opportunities to play many times to Zbigniew Drzewiecki […] he was always anxious to clean away any excessive rubato that might have crept into my playing. For Drzewiecki, the composer’s text was his bible […] at this time [late ’50’s, early ’60s], my playing had [arguably] become excessively expressive and was in need of correction.’ [JH/Chopin]

 

Early Ventures

Scanning the British Library Sound Archive suggests a player going down the critically-derided Eileen Joyce/Serge Krish road, mixing favourite concertos (Rachmaninov Two – in Hamburg with George Hurst, in those days principal conductor of the BBC Northern Symphony Orchestra), lightweight film pot-pourries-cum-pastiche, and the then dangerously cross-over jazz ‘decadence’/classical sacrilege of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue (with George Byrd – again Hamburg). Like Sergio Fiorentino, her one-time stable-companion, she seems happy to have contented herself for years not so much with the majors as any budget label who would offer her a platform, whatever their provenance or potential (Society, Delta, That’s Classical, Saga, Boulevard). With Gilbert Vinter and the London Variety Theatre Orchestra, she recorded an LP for Boulevard including Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, Jealous Lover, A Tale of Two Cities, Dream of Olwen, Cornish Rhapsody, Legend of the Glass Mountain, and Richard Addinsell’s obligatory Warsaw Concerto – released in 1959. Weightier material (if still gramophonically low profile) came from Delta (Mozart’s K 453 with the London Classical Ensemble under David Littaur). And to some extent Saga. (Though rumour has it that Saga destroyed tapes of two Beethoven-Liszt Symphonies, Nos 8 and 9 – along with some Fiorentino Bach.) In 1962 she recorded, abortively, Liszt’s Seven Hungarian Historical Portraits - which she’d resurrected in concert in 1958, but then felt the need to revise in the light of ‘closer acquaintance with the original manuscripts and alternative sketches’ (premiered at the Wigmore, 26 October 1972).

Under the direction of Joyce’s husband, William Barrington-Coupe (her unsung producer), Revolution Records steered her in a more esoteric, up-market direction, not least with the release of Bax’s Symphonic Variations which launched the company in 1970 (RCF 001), and his First and Fourth Sonatas. Constant Lambert, too, went into the can. Notwithstanding such repertory, comparatively little of the Joyce of those days was to give any indication of the flood, the phoenix-like re-invention of herself, to come twenty, thirty years later – following her withdrawal from the concert stage and the silence of the ’80s.

 

Concert Artist

One of the few post-war UK independents still in business, ‘a company run by musicians and music enthusiasts,’ Concert Artist [http://www.concertartistrecordings.com/] was established by William Barrington-Coupe in 1952 – ‘with the basic objective of providing a sounding board for young British talent […] neglected by the […] major record companies who held sway some fifty years ago […] The small size of the young label, many distributing problems, and the open hostility that confronted the company,’ their publicity reads, ‘did not prevent it from adopting a very positive attitude in promoting unusual repertoire. It scored a number of notable "firsts" in those early years […] premiere recordings of unusual works by Beethoven, Bartók, Chopin, Elgar, Handel, Liszt, and many others [finding] their way into […] record collections [around] the world’. Befitting a London past working with Eileen Joyce, Fiorentino and Lazar Berman - besides joining forces briefly with the futuristic, sonically pioneering, finally crazed Holloway Road producer Joe Meek (1929-67), forming Triumph Records in January 1960 - Barrington-Coupe is a man who keeps up with technology. He may work in the classical industry – but to his ears (placing him in the Seymour Solomon ‘I had an ideal sound in my ear’ tradition: ‘there’s only one way to do a recording […] produce it yourself’) a natural, distinctive, pedigree sound doesn’t necessarily have to be one classically generated or schooled. The Cambridge engineer Roger Chatterton, responsible for Concert Artist’s re-mastering programme, comes, for instance, from a touring, gigging background working with bands and groups in Britain, Europe and the US. At best such experience releases a physical dimension and imaginative aura in Joyce’s recordings freed of the closed parameters frequently associated with classical purists.

 

René Köhler

A survivor of the Holocaust gone missing in the murky wastelands and unspoken history of Cold War Europe, René Köhler (1926-2002) conducted Joyce’s concerto recordings during the ’90s, directing two ad-hoc studio orchestras – the National Philharmonic-Symphony and the 68-strong Warsaw Philharmonia.

Brought up in Weimar, René was a pupil of Raoul Koczalski [1884-1948, via his teacher Mikuli a direct descendent by tutelage of Chopin]. He was precocious, playing both Chopin concertos by the age of ten. In 1936, through Koczalski’s recommendation, he briefly continued studying music at the Jagiellonian University of Krakow. Failing to be awarded a government scholarship, he moved to Warsaw. In the Polish capital, unable to join the Conservatoire because of his Jewish faith, he studied privately with the pianist Stanisław Spinalski. In 1940 his left hand was crushed irreparably by a young German “officer”, so-called. He survived the Ghetto but in the summer of 1942 was deported to Treblinka [one of around 300,000 "resettled" over a period of 52 days between July and September]. Here [or in the vicinity - one of less than a hundred believed to have survived] he was found by the advancing Red Army [circa 1944]. Unimpressed by his mixture of Polish/French and German-Jewish stock, his Soviet interrogator sent him on a train heading East for a labour camp - where he remained from 1945 until 1970. Given his freedom, he returned to Warsaw, with the help of a Russian friend, to try and sort out his family property. He learnt that a small-holding, confiscated by the Nazis in 1940/41, had been allocated to a German family as part of a "Resettlement" scheme. Exacting "justice"/revenge/retribution on the resettled family in 1945 (they were killed), the new Polish government then impounded the place, later to form an integral part of a Communist Party Commune. René found that the Polish authorities refused to recognise the name "Köhler" as having Polish associations. Their Soviet counterparts meanwhile denied they’d ever "captured" or held him prisoner. The East Germans were not interested in the case, claiming that the Köhlers had left the Weimar area in 1936 of their own "freewill". In fact they’d fled, an old professor at the Hochschule (whose son was a Nazi Party member) having warned them, at personal risk, that they should leave Weimar since all Jews were to be rounded up the following year to be sent East. Three of the family had already been murdered. René kept such things to himself. He never desired any attention from the media. Physically he was a mess - probably why he used to add to his age to account for his appearance. He died from prostate cancer.’ [WB-C, adapted]

 

Instrumentarium

Joyce recalls that her first proper piano as a child in the mid-’30s was a Leipzig Blüthner grand bought by her father. Following a liking for vintage pre-war instruments shared with Michelangeli and Zimerman, her present one, used almost exclusively on the Concert Artist recordings, is a 1923 Hamburg Steinway D, Serial No 217355:

‘[…] an elderly piano but one with a naturally beautiful sound. Completely restored, it offers a big sonorous tone without the edgy clangour and hard-edged sounds of the modern Steinway with its pressed new-type frame. Originally it was in the old HMV Studios in Abbey Road and was used for classical sessions. Many distinguished pianists recorded on it. When Abbey Road decided that a new Steinway was essential, they decommissioned it. Fortune shone on us, we followed up some leads, and discovered it down in Sussex.’ [WB-C]

 

The Concert Artist Collection

Joyce stopped playing in public in 1979. Hospitalisation, near-death encounters, and alternative therapies followed - to become the pattern of her existence. She returned to the studio, 3 January 1989, playing Liszt. Since then she has maintained an annual recording schedule, reaching a peak of intensity in 1997-99. No discernible pattern or progression of repertory is apparent. Rather a mêlée of works, of stark emotional juxtapositions, of dramatically differing linguistic, spiritual and style states seemingly as the mood and impulse takes her, of projects begun, taken up again, or completed. In the five days between 4th and 8th January 1998, for example, she ranged from Chopin (four ballades) and Beethoven (Hammerklavier) to Prokofiev; in the corresponding period the following year, 3rd-7th, from Saint-Saëns (Fourth Piano Concerto), late Beethoven, Mendelssohn (the two piano concertos [CACD-9070-2]), Rachmaninov (B flat minor Sonata [CACD 9079-2]) and Schumann to Schubert (last sonata) and Liszt, and back again to Beethoven (middle period sonatas). Prodigious.

Marathon feats: the Hatto hallmark. As Cortot could do Chopin’s Préludes and two books of studies at a sitting, so she could do a Chopin recital tour playing 26 dates in 34 days (1958-59). Or all the Field nocturnes before tea, and Chopin’s after dinner (1953). Assuming correct documentation, five of her studio visits strike me in particular (changes of sound or microphone position between works notwithstanding), Joyce ostensibly doing in a day what others would need two or three for. Contemplate the magnitude, the intellectual grasp, the aesthetic response, the sheer pianistic stamina and concentration required:

6, 7 January 1995 Liszt Italian Operatic Transcriptions, including Hexaméron, Niobe,

Norma and Sonnambula [CACD 91112, 91122] Four late Mozart sonatas,

K 533/494, 545, 570, 576 [CACD 9055-2

4 January 1998 Chopin B minor Sonata [CACD 9043-2].

Beethoven Hammerklavier [CACD 8009-2]

14 October 1998 Schubert Sonatas in A minor, C minor, D 845, 958 [CACD 9064-2]

16 March 1999 Mussorgsky Pictures at an Exhibition [CACD 9129-2].

Balakirev Islamey [CACD 9195-2]

5 September 2003 Chopin Op 10 Études – a 75th birthday fest in the middle of

Chopin-Godowsky sessions [CACD 9147-2, 9148-2]

- impossible, many cynics would uphold.

Joyce comes from the tail-end of a generation (the 78 rpm one-takers) for whom preparing meticulously for a recording was increasingly the norm. Broadcasting-style, allow yourself a couple of complete takes, the odd patch; expect to get the right result (note accuracy, interpretative overview) in the minimum of time; don’t assume endless hours on tap. The greater the luxury of time, the greater the chance to fuss over passing imbalances or imperfections, to stultify a sense of performance. This is not Joyce’s way. From the beginning she was a rapid learner, mindful of the need to get style, notes and logistics right as a first priority. Working on their Rhapsody in Blue recording, George Byrd remembers how ‘very impressed’ he was with her eagerness to explore with [him] the special American style of the work of George Gershwin, and her quickness in integrating these elements into her playing - we had only a few sessions. The results of our collaboration were a rewarding experience.’ [GB] From the track-listings of her CDs, most works or cycles are finished at a sitting or during a run of consecutive sessions/days. Occasionally though she will set aside a project to be continued or completed at a later date. Prokofiev’s War Sonatas, for instance, were not to be finally tidied-up until six years after they were first tackled. The Liszt Sonata/Rhapsodie espagnople album, begun in 1989, only reached completion in 1999 [CACD 9067-2]; the Transcendental Studies, started in 1990, in 2001 [CACD 9084-2]. Maintaining consistency of idea and interpretation over a lengthy period, with a sound envelope to match, doesn’t seem to pose a problem.

Assessing most pianists, the critical instinct is to refer to others, to make judgmental comparisons - invidious as the process is. With Joyce I find myself rarely tempted to so do. Her authority is her own. Even when some of her decisions, her occasionally urgencies, are not to my taste, there’s a rightness, an honesty, to her recorded playing, that compels of its own. I feel in safe hands, I know her pianism won’t let down the composer, or her sense of occasion the listener. Tone, phrasing, projection. Articulation, pedalling, dynamics. Style, short-term shaping, long-term architecture. The ability to speak in music - eloquently, rhetorically, passionately, murmuringly. Such are the parameters she has honed to become the heart of her art. Her purling professionalism, the glitter of her cadenza and fioritura, the tenderness of her quiet loving, her fearlessness of emotional display, remind me of the old-time Slav romantics, the great musicians, who shaped my values as a student.

© Vivienne of London 1970

 

A Personal Selection

 

 

ALBENIZ Iberia. CACD 9120-2

3 January, 5 January 2003. Concert Artist Studios, Cambridge. Review William Hedley

Like the later Debussy Préludes, Iberia tests a pianist’s technique, imagination and dynamic resources. Joyce is no exception in finding it hard to grade her range from fffff to ppppp (El Corpus en Sevilla) – de Larrocha comes no way near – but she gets to the heart of the music, its evocacíon and mercurialism, better than most, even if her breathing and nuancing is different from the Spanish school. The bright passages glitter with hard heat, the languorous hold-backs, the voice-breaking triplet turns, the sensual basses, the double-octave-spanned ‘Andalusian’ unisons, recline in dusky coolness, Moorish scents on the wind. Gypsies, workers, dancers, drinkers, singers, ardent lovers, clattering courtyards, stories behind closed shutters. I am reminded of Laurie Lee’s Spain. Playing to her strengths, Joyce thrives on the plentiful pedal (and non-pedal) markings. The contrasts of tight rhythm and flexible rubato, the sudden accents and chest-voice cante hondo melodies, the guitar and high percussion colouring, the bouncing staccati, the mood changes, are well integrated. And though she shies from indulging the composer’s caesuras and die-aways, she makes good sense of his many swellings and contractions of time. Only in trying to make some of his repetitions of theme and episode interesting – de Larrocha’s sphere - may she be found sporadically wanting.

 

BAX Symphonic Variations in E. Guildford Philharmonic Orchestra/Vernon Handley.

CACD 9021-2 ADD

3 May 1970. EMI Abbey Road.

Master of the King’s Music, Bax was Joyce’s musical passion in her teens and early twenties. Knowing his romantic weakness for pretty young women, perhaps she was his too. Between them, however, stood the protective, possessive Harriet Cohen. James says as much in the opening paragraphs of his interview - detailing circumstances some time between 1950 (when Joyce acquired a photocopy of the original manuscript of the Variations from the publishers, Chappell, with corrections in Bax’s hand) and 1953 (the year of his death).

‘It was Sir Arnold Bax who first brought Joyce Hatto to my more active attention. I had seen the name in the concert columns but it did not register until I found myself in the Nags Head, Holloway, supping with Arnold after attending a rehearsal of one of his orchestral works by the Modern Symphony Orchestra at the Northern Polytechnic […] my ears were kindled when Arnold imparted that Joyce Hatto was to tackle his Symphonic Variations with the Modern Symphony. Sir Arnold was positively gleeful that Miss Hatto had actually asked to play his mammoth creation and not cajoled into it by his publishers. This had obviously endeared the young pianist to the composer from the off. He confided astonishment that, when playing the piece through to him in the Blüthner Studios [Wigmore Street], she could not only play the quite horrendously difficult piano part but actually understood it […] Arnold was delighted that the pianist had eschewed the simplified version that he had prepared for Harriet Cohen and had reverted to his original conception […]

It was then a strange coincidence that three days later I should receive a ticket and a leaflet announcing a recital given under the auspices of the [recently founded] Liszt Society. Now a Liszt Recital was a rarity. For a pianist to offer the Twelve Transcendental Études and to precede these by the composer’s earlier Twelve Études Op 1 seemed almost foolhardy. The coincidence was that it should be the same Joyce Hatto to perform this feat. This was a Lisztian event not to be missed. After the recital I was introduced to this young woman who had so charmed Sir Arnold. I congratulated her on her programme and chatted about the several late pieces she played as unusually interesting encores [collected in Vol 1 of the Liszt Society publications, 1951]. Of course, I had to mention that I was looking forward immensely to her playing the Bax Symphonic Variations. There was a definite tremble on her lower lip and I realised that this was a sore subject. I could only glean that the performance had been cancelled as some "strange circumstances" had arisen. No additional explanation was offered and I did not to press her further […] the journalist in me, as much as my disappointment. […] induced me to telephone Sir Arnold the very next morning. I immediately reported my conversation with Joyce Hatto and asked him what the "strange circumstances" could be. "Harriet" was the only word spoken and the line went dead. I should have guessed at once that Harriet Cohen figured in these "strange circumstances" as her possessiveness with any music, composer, or musician who happened to cross her path was known.’ [BJ]

Charting a chain of mystic experiences from Youth: ‘Restless and Tumultuous’, through Strife and Enchantment, to Triumph: ‘Glowing and Passionate’, the Symphonic Variations were written for Cohen, who gave the premiere with Henry Wood at the Queen’s Hall, 23 November 1920. Joyce’s landmark public performance with the Guildford Philharmonic and ‘Tod’ Handley, at the Civic Hall, Guildford, Saturday 2 May 1970, was judged the first complete account of the work in fifty years. That it had to take place after Harriet’s death was because ‘Harriet [had been] determined to block any performance’ [JH/Bax]. Justifying Sorabji’s early faith in the piece – ‘the finest work for piano and orchestra ever written by an Englishman’ (Around Music, 1932) - the recording, enthusiastic and pianistically brave, proved a pioneering two-and-a-half-session 46-minute trail-blazer. Concert Artist’s 2003 reissue digitally restores and re-edits the original analogue master. That it leaves un-rectified the ensemble/blending problems of a 1970 home-counties week-end orchestra in rehearse-and-record mode - despite the experience of William Armon leading, two prior concert rehearsals, and section leaders/rank-and-file members drawn largely from the main London orchestras - scarcely matters. As a turning-point in Joyce’s life, her ‘greatest ambition’, throwing down the gauntlet to the BBC/Glock camp and the British anti-tonalists of the ’60s and ’70s, helping, Lyrita-style, to blaze the trail for the Chandos/Hyperion ‘English’ phenomenon to come, this is a historic CD of significance.

 

BEETHOVEN Sonatas Opp 109, 110, 111. CACD 8010-2

18 September 1994; 3 January 1999. Concert Artist Studios, Cambridge.

‘Unconventional, experimental’ music of’ ‘lofty spirituality’ peopled by ‘many different characters’ was Hugo Leichtentritt’s postcard landscape of Beethoven’s late sonatas. Ranging ‘from inferno to paradiso,’ he told Harvard audiences in the thirties (Music, History, and Ideas), ‘their magnificent cosmic visions (Opp 106, 109, 111) have passed beyond the appassionato and the Titanic phases into metaphysical depths, mystic regions of a world beyond, [while] intermezzi of incomparable lyric beauty and intimacy of utterance (Opp 81a, 90, 101, 110) tinged with melancholy sing of the enchanting loveliness of the terrestrial world.’ Op 111, decreed Thomas Mann (Doktor Faustus), ‘brought’ the (classical) sonata as a form to an ‘end’ – ‘it had fulfilled its destiny, reached its goal, beyond which there was no going’. Pondering, manifesting such truths, Joyce’s Beethoven cycle is a vital document. Not to devalue her Bach, Chopin, Liszt, Rachmaninov and Prokofiev, I wonder if it may not turn out to be her most lasting achievement. The late sonatas - in the past a measure of maturity and greatness, today increasingly a hunting ground of the young - produce a typically direct response from her. She lets them speak on their own terms. Without to-do, she draws our attention to the fact that in Op 109 the first movement (strikingly voiced and integrated) is ‘vivace’ but ‘ma non troppo’ – ‘noble, calm, but dreamy’ (Czerny); that the theme of the finale is ‘molto cantabile’ not ‘andante’ or ‘adagio’. With Op 110 she lets us know that the opening movement is no more or less than ‘moderato cantabile’ – besides establishing its 3/4 pulse even before a note has sounded: there’s not a hint of metric instability about the first two bars. When subsequently she floats the demisemiquaver arpeggio ‘roulades’, she does so aware that to Beethoven’s disciples they were ‘extremely light, and by no means brilliant’ (our italics). That the ten syncopated G major chords of the fugal finale, bars 132ff, need not be held back in their (open-ended) crescendo but can be taken to an anguished una corda fortissimo goes with the ‘all out’ nature of her interpretation. Op 111, travelling its Romantically-charged journey from dissonance to concord, black forte G minor diminished-seventh homelessness to white pianissimo C major repose, primeval darkness to celestial light, earthly passion to heavenly pæan, receives a physical/hallowed performance of Ninth Symphony/Missa Solemnis ambience. Not always note-smooth agreed. But, relatively, how many pianists play like this? And, since Solomon, how many British ones?

 

BEETHOVEN Sonatas Opp 7, 106 (Hammerklavier). CACD 8009-2

2 August 1995; 4 January 1998. Concert Artist Studios, Cambridge. review Jonathan Woolf

When I was learning Op 7 in the early’60s, the semiquavers of the first movement and the twisting demisemis of the rondo in particular, how I wish Joyce’s performance had been before me. This is a classic traversal, varyingly brilliant, playful, and dark (third movement trio). The phrasing and touch, the gracefully gauged pedalling, the chamber-like approach to texture, dots and slurs, is a masterclass. Likewise the gran espressione of the thee-page Largo, with its quasi-pizzicato ‘cello’ accompaniment, and its ‘spoken’ delivery of turns and ornaments high above a sonorous bass. ‘Sing through your rests’ Plunket Greene used to advise (quoted by Tovey in the 1931 Associated Board edition I learnt from). Joyce does. The Hammerklavier flows without posturing. Plenty of grit and tension, a sweeping sense of form and argument, yet free of angst when the going gets tough. Joyce takes its puissance course in her stride, rarely forcing the issue, preferring leanness to corpulence. Sustain the Adagio she does, but by only the slightest of margins, preferring the music to breath naturally rather than become embalmed in some sepulchral tomb. Here ‘the player,’ Czerny says, must call forth the whole art of performance, in order that the hearer may not become fatigued from its unusual length. And yet […] the highly tragic and melancholic character of the whole must be faithfully preserved.’ Managing such balancing acts is Joyce’s speciality.

 

BEETHOVEN Sonatas Opp 49, 53 (Waldstein), 57 (Appassionata). CACD 8007-2

7 January 1999; March 2004. Concert Artist Studios, Cambridge.

For Joyce it’s critical that all music - big, small, complex, simple, greater, lesser – receives complete attention. Here we have the ‘easy’ Op 49 set given connoisseur treatment, plumbing unsuspected depths. Not something tossed-off but seriously considered - and beautifully rounded tonally. The Waldstein and Appassionata she invests with pulsating symphonic direction. These are big performances, tightly reined. In the first movement of the Waldstein she offers, like Brendel, a simple lesson in how to maintain tempo and tension: don’t slow down, don’t introduce spurious rits, follow, trust, the composer. The lead-back to the exposition repeat of the first movement, the point of recapitulation (following a re-transition crescendo boiling with Fourth Symphony energy), the start of the coda, are superbly controlled. Don’t be fooled by the apparent matter-of-factness. It’s all been rigorously thought out. These passages are far from easy to bring off. The weighting of the finale Introduzione is profound, the paused right-hand sf G at the end pregnant with suspended suspense. The rondo itself is a high-German painting of romantic mist, pedalled scales and sudden bouncing, clarifying staccati (bars 55ff et al), fierce ‘Turkish music’ minore, thrilling toccata, gliding octave glissandi, and prestissimo white C major tumult. A grandioso view of a landscape one cannot afford to ignore. The Appassionata is no less imposing, if more flexible towards matters of tempo shifts and phrasing/architectural ritardandi. The first movement holds together compellingly, with an arresting mix of strong dynamic contrasts and ‘wet’ and ‘secco’ attack to highlight the formal rhetoric. Classic refinement, pin-point clarity, and subtle emphases (for instance not always stressing down beats, or leaning off the dynamic) spread a golden veil across the Andante ‘divisions’. Wild Furies, roaring winds, envelop the finale – yet with every branch, each scattered leaf, naked to the microscope. Rarely have I come across such discipline, architectural foreground or clarity of harmonic underlay. One of the great Beethoven recordings.

 

BRAHMS Piano Concertos Nos 1, 2

National Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra/René Köhler. CACD 8001-2

4 March 1992 [No 2]; 4 June 1995 [No 1].Concert Artist Studios, Cambridge;

St Mark’s Church, Croydon.

Reviews: Concerto 1 Jonathan Woolf Concerto 2 Jonathan Woolf Christopher Howell

Boldly projected, structurally focussed, Joyce’s Brahms, concerted or solo, is muscular, handsome more than beautiful, with a tonal quality to match, mountain rugged fortissimo rather than salon refined piano. She digs deep into the keyboard, Köhler into the bedrock of his orchestra. Massive textures, pugilist brass, intense melodic lines and an upfront dynamic range create a Heil Deutsche Romantische sound from an epoch aeons before ‘period’ cleansing came on the scene. The D minor, fairly ambiently recorded (to the advantage of the piano if not always the orchestra), is as sturm und drang as you want, the whole built on a foundation of harmonic sign-posting and bass line progressions, Brahms’s tussle between classical mind and romantic heart sharply delineated. The adagio is simple, direct, manly, finding benediction in a closing piano cadenza and orchestral amen of deep spirituality - slower than Gilels but not burdened by the fact. The rondo fairly takes off (erring on the brisk side, Joyce’s view of allegro non troppo, here and elsewhere, has a tendency to minimise the ‘non troppo’ caution), but climaxes in a thrilling meno mosso impelled forward by menacingly treading reed woodwind, focussed drum, and dotted-rhythm cellos. The deliberated first movement of the B flat (recorded earlier) favours the 1972 Gilels re-make direction – 18:40 against his 18:22. Only the andante is quicker to any significant extent – by 6.6%, 13:11 against 14:07. The introduction sets a large stage, the piano glowing into B flat major resonance, each note picked and placed. Neither scherzo nor finale are that preoccupied with playfulness or humour, going for serious drama and low-octave thunder instead. Only in its cello/clarinet/piano interlacing, does the slow third movement embrace a softer, warmer vision - Joyce the chamber musician, happy to listen and take a back seat when necessary (cf Tchaikovsky Second Piano Concerto, slow movement, original version [CACD 9085-2]). Performances addressed to northern warrior gods. Necessary to experience once in a while.

 

CHOPIN Waltzes Nos 1-20. CACD 9042-2

2 January 1992. Concert Artist Studios, Cambridge. review Jonathan Woolf

This collection offers the standard 15 of most editions, plus four posthumously published numbers and a throwaway in F sharp minor attributed to Chopin, published in 1932, for which Joyce has long had ‘affection’ even though it may be spurious. Her playing is elegantly chiselled, old world perfumes surrounding the music to create cameos and sighs not of our age. Fine pianism and feeling (unfashionable word). Readily distinctive is the shaping and signing-off of cadences, one of Joyce’s telling signatures as a pianist. Luscious tone and graded left-hand support throughout, sometimes veritably pizzicato. Subtle rhythmic buoyancy.

 

CHOPIN Mazurkas Nos 1-57. Vol I CACD 9116-2; Vol II CACD 9117-2

Begun 15 March 1992. Completed 27 April 1997. Concert Artist Studios, Cambridge.
reviews Christopher Howell Jonathan Woolf

‘Monsieur Cortot’s involvement with the Chopin Mazurkas was extraordinarily deep and intensely personal. His ideas […] struck a deep chord with me. He felt Chopin had embedded his own and Poland’s tragedies in each and every one of them. As I had always thought, from early childhood, that life and nature itself was a great canvas of tragedy, I was a sponge eager to soak up more of the same from him.’ [JH/Chopin] I’ve returned frequently to these discs, as evocative a rendering of elusive music as one could wish for. Joyce understands their femininity, yet knows their manliness too. And is at one with their psyche. ‘Coquetries, vanities, fantasies, inclinations, elegies, vague emotions, passions, conquests, struggles upon which the safety or favours others depend, all meet in this dance’. The words of Liszt, prefacing the booklet notes. Progressively, the playing travels an extraordinary journey, from early forthrightness to late intimacy, youthful flirtation to exile dream, rough gesture to high finesse. How Joyce inflects this, taking us with her, is remarkable. No hot-house contrivances here, no Rubinstein/Malcuzynski parody - just notes, phrases, syncopated accents, direct dynamic lighting and a pinch of rubato drawn from life and listening. Joyous, poetic, sad. ‘The collective sorrow and tribal wrath of a down-trodden nation’. ‘Dances of the Soul’.

 

CHOPIN Four Rondos. Four Ballades. CACD 9038-2

16 June 1992; 6 January 1998. Concert Artists Studios.

review Jonathan Woolf

Period-infectious rondos, playful without being gratuitous. The ballades cohere well, independently and as a group. That Joyce does not over-state the introduction of the G minor, nor over-do the tempo changes, encapsulates her approach. WA Chislett’s booklet notes comment that the Third is ‘often murdered by speed-merchants’. That is not Joyce’s way. The music unfolds simply, left largely to speak for itself, articulated with intelligence and authority, the ‘I’ factor never to the fore.

‘Cortot’s thoughts on the actual motivation driving Chopin’s creative processes were quite different to those of Arthur Hedley. Arthur Hedley was quite convinced that Chopin was quite different to the other composer-pianists of the Romantic School in that he neither sought, nor relied, on the stimulation of the great written, pictorial or sculptural works of art to feed his creative musical inspiration. For example, Hedley scorned the then widely held idea that Chopin was influenced by the ballades of Mickiewicz in connection with his own instrumental ballades, whereas, Alfred Cortot was quite firm in his belief that Chopin was completely influenced by Polish Literature, Art and Culture, [that] the underlying seam of sadness in his music was as much due to his personal unhappiness as to the constant news of […] sad events [arriving] so regularly from his native Poland.’ [JH/Chopin]

 

CHOPIN Piano Concertos Nos 1, 2

Warsaw Philharmonia Orchestra/René Köhler. CACD 9082-2

5/6 October 1994. Watford Town Hall. review Jonathan Woolf

18-21 October 2005. Soaked though I may be in the turn and glitter of these works from the twelve finalists of the latest Warsaw Chopin Competition, I find it enlightening to return to Joyce’s appraisal, an Anglo-Polish collaboration of many-layered insights and distinctive personality whatever the occasional divergencies of opinion. Playing Chopin she’s a very different artist, another pianist even, from the one met in Brahms – still the same force and clarity of finger-work but more of a colourist with time to inflect and declaim phrases. On balance the E minor Concerto (No 1) comes off best, a reading of sensitivity and sensibility to place next to Rubinstein, Pollini and Gilels. The F minor takes time to settle, Köhler initially setting a non-maestoso tempo at variance with Joyce’s slower ground-pulse. Once in accord, though, she flourishes, ‘throwing’ the notes and investing the running-passages with as much melodic significance as harmonic purpose. The plain-spoken larghetto may not extract the ultimate poetry or intensity others have found (to my mind, interpretatively speaking, the opening A flat arpeggio, even though without dynamic marking, is not so much a foreground marker as a definer, a setter, of landscape), but that said there are touches I would not want to be without (the pianissimo delicatissimo scale and expiring staccato at bar 72 of the cadenza, for instance). In the finale the alternations of folk terpsichore and concert bravura captivate as they should, natural air and space being found to place the notes. Especially felicitous towards the end is the clarinet/piano cadence with echo at bars 309ff (5:06), a rarely done effect. The phrasing and tone of the cor de signal at 6:50 defines enchantment.

 

CHOPIN 24 Études Opp 10, 25. Trois Nouvelles Études B 130

2nd recording, 75th Anniversary Edition. CACD 9243-2

1 (Trois Nouvelles Études), 5 (Op 10), 8 (Op 25) September 2003. Concert Artists Studios, Cambridge.

More robust and dynamic than the 1992 recording [CACD 9035-2], less studio-managed, the post-production a touch rough and short-winded around the edges – but what an extraordinary feat, poetically strong and frequently electrifying. Even (huskily) vocal. Here we have an artist at full throttle, high on adrenalin, technique gleaming, commanding a Rolls-Royce of an instrument firing on all cylinders. The two C sharp minors – Op 10’s glycerine blaze, Op 25’s infinite nostalgia - sum up the zeniths of an amazing universe. Others may be more leggiero in the lighter numbers (the G flat pair, the F major from Book I). More concerned with a polished veneer - reminiscent of the louder passages in the 2002 Brahms’s Paganini Variations [CACD 9030-2], the rush of hormones on the last beat of bar 48 of the opening C major, cancelling out the composer’s diminuendo otherwise observed on Joyce’s earlier recording, strikes an unexpectedly rude accent. Few, though, better her glorious bass lines in the A minor or C minor from Book II, exceed her G sharp minor thirds, or equal the deep anguish and longing she finds in the middle section of the E minor (same volume). The Trois Nouvelles Études (in the order F minor, D flat, A flat [1st French edition, November 1840]) are gems. ‘Never wishing to be outdone’ by students or peers, Joyce has had these pieces in her ‘practicing routine for over fifty years’. It shows. That, and memories of Koczalski and Cortot.

‘When I first started to learn the Chopin Études as a young girl I […] used the Cortot Edition exclusively [Paris: circa 1917]and made full use of all the additional exercises that Monsieur Cortot provided for mastering and developing the fluency necessary to master the technical problems. When, wonderfully, the moment came for me to play these études to Cortot himself [London, circa 1947] I asked him, a little nervously, which study he would like to hear first. He picked up my copy, turned to the first study in C Major, and tapped the page. Like a greyhound out of the trap I bowled into my performance. It was, I thought, much too fast (I was nervous) but it was only the phrasing and the sound that occupied him. He accepted that I had acquired the necessary technical ability […] and could freely spend the valuable time at our disposal on the musical aspects of the pieces. "Encore", he insisted, and I played the piece again, a few more comments in my ear […] "Encore", and I charged through those arpeggios once more. After my fourth effort he sat down at the second piano and played the whole study through making comments as he played. Cortot made the point that the French word "grande" did not translate well into English as the term "grande" did not countenance an absence of elegance. Faced with his performance, played with such ease, such a beautiful tone, and so many tonal variations, one could only marvel. He constantly illustrated from the keyboard […] frequently [playing] illustrations faster, in some instances much faster, than on his recordings.’ [JH/Chopin]

Cortot’s ‘programme’ for each study Joyce does not reveal. Nor his ‘romantic "extra-musical" thoughts’ – beyond saying that they were ‘tied up more specifically with his remarks on art and the particular paintings on which [to an accompaniment of English tea and walnut cake] he would expound quite knowledgeably and quite spontaneously during our expeditions together to the National Gallery in London’.

 

DEBUSSY Twenty Four Préludes. CACD 9130-2

4 January, 16 March 2001. Concert Artist Studios, Cambridge review Christopher Howell

These performances reward for their articulation (legato, staccato, tenuto especially), dexterous action, harmonic clarity, chordal voicing, and regularity of pulse (according to Marguerite Long, Debussy premiered Danseuses de Delphes ‘with almost metronomic precision’). The showering dazzle and distant Marseillaise of Feux d’artifice … the toreador-presenced Spanish tableaux … the music-hall turns … the ‘wooden’ ‘mechanical rigidity’ of Général Lavine, eccentric (Debussy/Long) … the desolation of Des pas sur la neige … the ice-watered grandeur of La Cathédrale engloutie ‘sound-years’ away … the esoteric exotic intoxication of La terrasse des audiences du clair de lune … the lonely burial urns and calling souls of Canope (frozen, unbroken LH tenths). All repay listening. That Joyce elects to ally Debussy with the Liszt rather than Chopin tradition, presenting him on a masculinised canvas in bold, ‘orchestral’, colours (witness the gong-like bottom A’s at the end of the Baudelair inspired "Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l’air du soir"), won’t on the other hand be to everyone’s taste, Gallic aesthetes especially. Occasionally more humour, more ‘feeling of musical purity’ (the Pre-Raphaelite La fille aux cheveux de lin), more smoky ‘half tint’ lighting (distinguishing mark, contemporaries maintained, of the composer’s own playing), would not have gone amiss. Similarly, in some numbers, less literal phrasing, more flexibility in moulding the many cédez arrestments, and greater attention to the softer levels of the dynamic spectrum. One of those recordings to learn from - forcing you to re-examine the printed page and evaluate contexts.

 

LISZT Italian Operatic Transcriptions Vol II. CACD 91112

6 January 1995 (Hexaméron); 7 January 1995 completed 18 May 2004.

Concert Artist Studios, Cambridge.

Transcription. Liszt’s word. Speciality of the 19th century klavier eagles. Sphere of the Golden Agers. A chance to don many mantles - the pianist as singer, violinist, dancer, conductor, organist, orchestra, chorus, popular gathering. Liszt left some of Romanticism’s most searing, starry examples – caressing, singing, and thundering his instrument into a glittering, humming Catherine-wheel of images and illusions. An instrument that by his death in 1886 had become a high-tension, high-octane, 88-note iron-and-wood beast, over-strung and tri-pedalled, the ‘Lord Byron of Music’ (Anthony Burgess). I’ve lived, loved, played and written about the Hexaméron variations ever since Raymond Lewenthal stormed the world with them in the 1960s. There are several promising to excellent recordings available - as well as the odd one or two, it has to be said, sounding little more than a sight-read. Joyce’s account is neither promising nor a sight-read. She knows this music and its symposium of composers intimately, and she’s steeped in the style. Played to the melody rather than the ornament, living the song rather than the bravura, here is an aristocratic, persuasively engineered version - my only reservation being the occasional prolongation of certain fermati, rests or divisions between sections at the expense of the onward flow and adrenergic tension you’d get in a ‘live’ concert situation. But this is a minor quibble. The byword Norma, Puritani and Lucia di Lammermoor ‘réminiscences’ find Joyce in responsive mood, as lyrical or wild, pianistic or operatic, as the moment demands. A quality bird’s eye view of bel canto plunder at its greatest.

 

LISZT Années de Pèlerinage II (Italie). Venezia e Napoli. CACD 9150-2

11/12 March 1996; 1 October 1999. Concert Artist Studios. review Christopher Howell

‘When one listens to [Hatto] one hears luminous tone harnessed to cast iron technique, a very special eloquence and sense of characterisation quite without exaggeration or ostentation. Added to these rare qualities are the alluring sonorities she evokes and the reflective stillness she somehow seems to compel of the music – as much as the music compels it of her.’ [Jonathan Woolf, MusicWeb]. Finely engineered, this is a special disc, Joyce exploring Liszt’s programmatic, impressionistic, futuristic roads to create a gallery of thoughtful, atmospheric pictures. True even of the Dante Sonata – a molten, impassioned, theatrical experience, terrifying in its manic moments, yet with time for long passages of reflection, calm and beauty of tone.

‘Joyce’s reading of the Dante Sonata is slower than the modern norm [19 minutes compared with around 16 to 18]. Busoni felt and told Krish that it was really to sound as it was in the hot cavernous depths of hell where the moans and cries "echoed out" and reverberated from the bowels of Lucifer's Kingdom. Joyce is not one for using the sustaining pedal as a prop to her interpretation. In this piece, however, she is less sparing and takes Liszt at his word, endeavouring to find the sound the composer wanted and Busoni tried to teach. In her original [unsigned] notes she wrote "Liszt takes us by the hand and leads us down, down, down into the depths and abyss of a fearful place...".’ [WB-C]

Pianistically, that’s exactly what she does. Incandescent. Venezia e Napoli leads us to sunnier places. Even so there’s a sadness and longing in the shadows – a slightly out-of-tune instrument adding its own elegiac imagery. The slow maggiore arias and tears of the Gondoliera, Canzone (at 2:27) and Tarantella (2:01), music to test a pianist’s bel canto, yearn and pause, holding onto time and life, to unspoken memories. Joyce’s mastery, her glass-edged poise, the mirror she looks into, stills the listener.

 

LISZT Études Vol II. CACD 9132-2

12 November 1998, 6 January 1999. Concert Artist Studios, Cambridge.

The best of Joyce’s Transcendental Studies [CACD 9084-2] make for compelling listening. Feux follets, Ricordanza and Harmonies du soir impress in particular for their ‘breeding’, technical finish, and fanciful poetry (they were coached in the late-’40s by Moiseiwitsch and Cortot). Correspondingly fine is this disc, comprising the five Concert Studies (published 1849, 1863) and the familiar 1851 re-write of the Paganini series. The playing ranges from the mercurial (a stunning Gnomenreigen, ideally Presto scherzando) to the achingly poetic (an Un sospiro reminiscent of Lamond; the misting aroma of the top D flat in bar 45 of La leggierezza). The Paganinis are grand and technically sweeping. No tempo concession is made to accommodate the difficulties of the octaves in No 2. The trills of La Campanella whir like Levitzki’s, leading to (aurally) one of the most convincingly untroubled finishes I know. No 4 finds the piano alchemised into a violin, so remarkable is the touch, dovetailing of hands, and detaché. Christopher Howell (MusicWeb) neatly defines the hub of Joyce’s Liszt. ‘With technical nonchalance but a complete lack of any virtuoso fuss, [she] just gets on with playing the pieces "straight", like the good music they are. Whether she learnt this from some past teacher or whether her instincts led her this way I know not, nor does it matter much. She is in that royal line of Liszt interpreters who believe this is great music and is to be played as such. Now, what you won’t get from Hatto is the sort of filigree passage-work that makes you gasp at the sheer crystalline evenness of it all. Her passage-work is good, but it is not part of her agenda to parade its "goodness" as an end in itself. In other words, if it’s Liszt the circus-master you’re after, you won’t get it. But if you have resisted Liszt because of his showy image, then these wonderfully musicianly performances might make you change your mind.’ Absolutely.

 

MOZART Eighteen Sonatas. CACD 9051/55-2 (5 discs)

2-3 January 1995 (Nos 1-5); 6-7 January 1995 (Nos 15-18); 16 February 1995 additional material 3 January 1999 (Nos 10-12); 23-24 February 1995 (Nos 6-8); 17 April 1995 (Nos 9, 13, 14, Fantasy K 475). Cambridge Artist Studios, Cambridge.
Reviews Christopher Howell Vol 1 Vol 2 Vol 3 Vol 4 Vol 5

Richard Dyer has spoken of ‘an operatic vocality and fluidity’ informing Joyce’s 1995 Mozart cycle. This set gives unmitigated pleasure, the ‘ring’ of the piano, each dot and slur, floating in a memorably warm acoustic. More often than not one can sense if a concert performance is going to be good, bad or indifferent from the way the first two notes or chords are attacked and timed rhythmically. So it is here. The way Joyce sets a phrase on its limpid journey, how she allows the music to breathe, argue and relax, the manner of her slow movements, so expressively curved and ornamented, can only promise special experience. She delivers a marvellous series of characterisations drawn from opera, ballet, symphony, concerto and song. French poise, Mannheim galantry, Viennese graciousness. Civilised speech, elegant figuration, toying humour. There is nothing reduced, restrained or ‘period’-precious about this Mozart. If the music suggests Beethoven, that’s what you get, gran espressione, weighty chording, heavy-boned forte and all. If it conjures an orchestra, a harmonie, that’s a cue for an emporium of scarcely-pedalled touches, voicings and colours. Bold gestures release big dynamics: Hammerflügel turned concert grand. Intimacies and anguish, poetic beauties, moderate the scale: Steinway turned Stein. Listening to Joyce’s unfailingly frank pianism, her gift to let the music ‘happen’, I find no urgent need to go back to the scores, happy to sit back and take delight in the calm perfection and good taste, the buoyancy of the moment, spread before me like an 18th century garden. There’s an abundance of Mozart sonatas on disc, from the ultra veneered to the ‘psychotically weird’. Free of hang-ups, Joyce’s set is one to cherish, good to have on the shelf alongside Gieseking and Klien.

 

PROKOFIEV War Sonatas Nos 6-8 Opp 82-84. CACD 9122-2

Begun 7 January 1998 (Nos 6, 7); 10 February 1998 (No 8). Completed 3 September 2004.

Concert Artist Studios, Cambridge. review Jonathan Woolf

Joyce discussed these 20th century beacons in Moscow with Richter, who’d given the premiere of the Seventh in 1943. Here are structurally cogent, rhythmically tight readings, rich in imagery and clarity of textural voicing - rarefied, personally experienced visions, from insidious marche militaire to distant basilica bells, painting an often poignant canvas. The ambient recording does splendid justice to the music, repetitive and secco chords ricocheting off the acoustic, resonant yet un-pedalled. However competitive the market-place, from veteran masters to young bloods winning their spurs, No 7 is about as good as you’ll get, a version thrilling and sensitive, magically hued and toned. Joyce has no time for the tom-tom percussiveness and spiky breathlessness many players spuriously bring to Prokofiev. Rather she seeks out beauty of sound, length of phrasing, colour and solitude. The dynamic range is wide but unexaggerated. Her low B flat octaves, richly over-toned, thunder with a gravitas not forgotten easily, her softly hued upper registers whisper confessionally.

 

RACHMANINOV Piano Concertos 1-4, Paganini Rhapsody.

National Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra/René Köhler.

CACD 9178-2, CACD 9219-2

17 March 1994 [Paganini Rhapsody], 5 October 1996 [Nos 1, 4]. Watford Town Hall. 29 March 1998 [No 2], 10 July 1998 [No 3]. St Mark’s Church, Croydon.
Reviews Jonathan Woolf Concertos 1&4 Concerto 2 Concerto 3

There are many fine individual beauties here, not least the observantly detailed, dare one say gorgeous, orchestral support, plenty of air and space (if arguably not always sufficient ceiling) surrounding the players. Joyce and René breath and phrase as one, with shared lines and a mutual sense of climax. The ensemble and precision attack, rhythmic pointing, and clarity of dialogue, is often remarkable. If the lyric passages stick in the memory more than the extrovert virtuoso ones (No 1, finale central episode; the variations leading up to and including the D flat eighteenth in the Paganini, freed of sentimentality in its chiselled remembrance), maybe it’s because these performances are rich in period-experienced chances, heart-on-the-sleeve risks, and ‘dated’ expressive devices (portamento, for instance). I find it very easy to live with No 2, relishing the sonorities, the bigness, the intimacy, the dynamic finesse (a breathtaking ff>p at fig 25 of the slow movement), the precision trills, the way C major is colouristically and emotionally differentiated between loving, gently sighing afterglow (first movement) and knock-out post-Tchaikovsky glory (finale). No 3 commands impressively - from the child-like innocence of the opening … through tumultuous first movement cadenza (the longer and chordally tougher of the two Rachmaninov provided) and expansive, fragile cadenced, scherzo-fleet intermezzo … to big-boned, arabesque-teasing, imperiously perorated finale. No one for a second seems in doubt of their place in the drama. The Fourth (dedicated to Medtner), an awkward Cinderella, repays investigation, Joyce, like Michelangeli, Demidenko and Marshev, making a strong emotional and structural defence. Again, one must admire her conductor. Highly impressive, always fearless, these recordings, released in 2002/04, equal or out-strip much of the current CD competition, newcomers not least.

 

RACHMANINOV Études tableaux Opp 33, 39. CACD 9128-2

15 June 1996, 28 September 1999 (Op 33); 19/20 September (Op 39).

Concert Artist Studios, Cambridge review Jonathan Woolf

Form, it’s been said, is ‘slow’ (to perceive), colour ‘quick’ (to recognise). In these seventeen pieces Joyce gives us form and colour in equal doses at equal speed. Spiritually at home in the atmosphere and melancholy of Russian music - Rachmaninov’s figurations lying well under her hands, his sonorities drawing the best out of her piano - her command cannot be doubted. Here is masterly playing in the grand manner, a fabulous collection of poems and studies, shining bells (Op 33/7) and sylvan glades (C minor, Op 33/3, closing C major two-thirds), bleak individuals and motoric crowds, funeral marches and old witches’ tales (Op 39/7, not to be missed). Rhythmically poised high-speed staccati, full, weighted, inner-voiced chords, a richly expansive sound and dynamic field … space, silence, theatre. The odd missed note or edit worries me not in the slightest. This imaginative, unforced CD is prime reference listening.

 

RACHMANINOV Twenty Four Preludes. CACD 9127-2

12 March 1999, 30 December 2001. Concert Artist Studios, Cambridge. Review William Hedley

There are no shortage of Rachmaninov Preludes in the catalogue, every pianist, like them or not, bringing their own unmistakeable stamp, technique and aesthetic conception to the music. Horowitz, Richter, Weissenberg, Ashkenazy, Alexeev, Demidenko. The composer himself. The middling-road/low temperature British, Lympany to Shelley. Joyce, the name, likeness, and memory of Rachmaninov intimately bound up with her life, offers an alternately brooding, passionate, tender perspective. She knows all about voicing chords the Russian way (Moiseiwitsch legacy?), as well as the importance to the Rachmaninov style of subsidiary inner voices and chromatic prisms. And her rubato is exemplary, not over-milked but with just the right amount of lift and pause. Dynamics are big but not over-theatrical. Focussed bass end, full of leashed power, given splendid head in climaxes. Interpretatively, Joyce is never anything but her self. Something like the opening C sharp minor (Op 3 No 2) is delivered freshly minted, profoundly coloured. Where in the middle section someone like Demidenko lets loose rampant demons, she finds malignant spirits threatening with what they might do. Among the many jewels of this album, 1, 5, 6, 11, 16, 21, 23 and 24 should be in everyone’s collection. Haunting, smoky, fabulous throwbacks to a time that was.

 

SCARLATTI Eighteen Sonatas. CACD 9208-2

23 June, 23 September 1997. Concert Artist Studios, Cambridge. review Jonathan Woolf

Listen ‘blind’ to any Joyce Hatto recording and the inescapable conclusion would be of a thinker at the keyboard, a stylist. Along with her Chopin mazurkas [CACD 9116-2; 9117-2], I ‘innocent eared’ these Scarlatti sonatas on a friend in Paris – a music industry professional and well-known pianophile. He posed some interesting suggestions, an artist, he thought, reminding him by turn of Lipatti, Michelangeli, Pires. In the refined pianoforte spirit of Joyce’s 1990/98 Bach Goldberg [CACD 9068-2], these tracks have classic qualities, from gentle intimacy to cut-glass trills, southern arioso to northern basses, minore moonbeams to maggiore sunshine. I wouldn’t want to single out one at the expense of another.

 

SCHUBERT Three Late Sonatas D 845, 960, 894

CACD 9064-2; CACD 9066-2; CACD 9065-2;

14 October 1998; 5 January 1999; 5 May 2000. Concert Artist Studios, Cambridge.
Reviews Jonathan Woolf 9064 , 9065 , 9066

Joyce thinks no more of Schubert in the shadow of Beethoven than she does Mozart in twin-set and pearls. She presents him on a Great C major scale - the piano symphonist to Beethoven’s symphonic pianist. Big gestures, tough developments, angry currents, primary coloured textures. The A minor, D 845, is a typical example, so variegated and voiced in its lines and registers that one can almost hear an orchestra, a theatre, at play - Biedermeier solos and ensembles contrasting ‘rough’ Redountensaal tuttis Vienna 1825 vintage; forest horns duskily closing the andante; shepherd song floating above alpine valley floors in the scherzo’s trio; chattering woodwind tumbling over themselves in the finale. There is nothing reduced about this playing or the formal perception of the music. At over 44 minutes Joyce’s very fine G major, D 894 is nearer to Richter’s way (46) than Brendel’s (37) – but to my mind holds the argument better, the lyricism more physical than cerebral. The spacious expanses and broad harmonic rhythms of the first movement are finely brought out, equally the shaping and agogics of the andante, each phrase corner and key change prepared and breathed in its own time and space. High tenderness turns the trio of the menuetto into an other-world oasis (magical touch and pedalling). Of the 1828 trilogy, the swansong B flat, D 960, cogent and cohesive discounting some finale breathlessness, ranks best overall in terms of pianism, piano sound and recording quality. Falling between Brendel (37) and Richter (46), it comes home in 40 minutes. Following Joyce’s custom, all repeats are taken, including the first movement exposition. The landscape is broad, the pauses and silences long (and never the same), the andante sostenuto hypnotically fluid yet static (its A major middle section a poem of pedalling, legato melody and staccato accompaniment). In the scherzo’s trio the jagged displacements of accent in the left hand are strikingly emphasised, generating conflicts normally under-stated. Overall, a wonderful fusion of lyricism and tension.

Listening to these performances, to the joys and distresses of Schubert’s muse, to history’s famous melodies, I find myself reaching for Muriel Draper and the last lines of Music at Midnight. London, Chelsea, Edith Grove. A house of Beethoven, Chopin, Schubert, of musicians, dancers and artists. Late spring 1915, the going-down of the Lusitania. ‘A matchless Bechstein’ chosen by M’s lover … Rubinstein, Arthur.

‘It was time to go […] I waved […] and walked through the door, out of 19 Edith Grove […] I drew a circle around the life I left there: as it closed, I heard music. I turned to look. And there in the door they stood, Ysaÿe, Barrere, Rubio, Sammons, Warner, Petrie, and Evans, their instruments miraculously at hand, playing divinely. I do not know what they played, but as it carried me across the [pavement] and into the waiting cab, I heard from the open window in the roof of 19A the splendid chords of the Hammerklavier Sonata. The golden era was at an end.’

 

SCHUMANN Piano Concerto*; GRIEG Piano Concerto;

LITOLFF Concerto Symphonique No 4 – Scherzo*.

National Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra/René Köhler. CACD 9194-2

*1 March 1997; 8/9 February 1999. Concert Artist Studios, Cambridge. Review: Jonathan Woolf

Graveyard of so many pianists and conductors, Schumann’s Concerto emerges here with a calm, spacious authority that’s satisfying and convincing. Cumulatively, the unaffected point-making, the sweep of orchestral paragraphing leading into the first movement cadenza, the cadenza itself, the simply delivered clarity of the intermezzo (purged of non-necessities), the classical brilliance and romantic cliché of the finale, all make for a performance one wants to return to, even in an over-crowded market. Köhler and the NPSO lend seasoned, distinguished support to the proceedings. Grandness and characterful purpose inform the Grieg, a commanding account powerfully projected. Not for the first time, one has to admire the crafting of detail and joins. The pedigree of orchestral contribution, too, which makes one hear things anew. No connoisseur of class pianism will want to miss the cadenza, its awesome bass-plunging climax, or the portent of its pauses. Likewise the quality and articulated shaping of the slow movement’s piano entry, a telling barometer of an artist’s sensitivity and life-experience. For Joyce all the time in the world seems hers, the notes suspended and curled, sounded and softened, to send shivers. The finale she takes by the reins, not a loose harness in sight. The F major middle section (trademark phrased and placed cadences), the proud crest of the coda with the flattened seventh G naturals that so caught Liszt’s imagination, have to be heard. Pianists come no better than this. Simply thrilling. Outstandingly conducted, the Litolff makes a nice old-fashioned encore, of a breed few dare consort with any more. Stunningly, idiomatically tossed off. Rosette standard.

 

TCHAIKOVSKY Piano Concerto No 1; SAINT-SAËNS Piano Concerto No 4. National Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra/René Köhler. CACD 9086-2

[1]2-3/5 March 1997; 3 January 1999. Concert Artist Studios, Cambridge.

Reviews: Christopher Howell, Jonathan Woolf

Reared, like so many of her generation, on Hambourg’s playing of the work in the film The Common Touch (1941) - and grateful to Solomon for having ‘given her the impetus to actually get the music and find out what it was all about’ [WB-C] - Joyce learnt the Tchaikovsky B flat minor with Serge Krish before living it with the violinist Michael Zacharewitsch (who’d known Tchaikovsky personally, and from whom, she says, she ‘learned much about the Russian idea of performance and of Tchaikovsky in particular’), Moiseiwitsch and Yakov Zak (who ‘turned up the temperature a few degrees’). Believing that it is ‘not possible to give an even adequate performance with a partial run-through with orchestra and a chat with the conductor,’ she was never to programme it in England. To our loss. Her measured Cambridge re-make is insightful, challenging and thought provoking. Grand inner strength, absence of formal hiatus or exaggeration, and precision octave fusillades impressive for their clarity and tone quality (minim 122), distinguish the first movement. The Andantino (will-o’-the-wisp Prestissimo – dotted crotchet 120-22) duskily remembers another age of poetry, rubato and touch, the horn and woodwind dolci at 33ff dreamily shaped and swelled, the string countermelodies of the reprise thrown (alla Gavrilov/Kitaenko) into warmly sonorous relief. Sharing the Sokolov/Gergiev approach (St Petersburg 1993), Hatto/Köhler usefully validify the third edition’s Tempo I changes in the finale second subject (slow orchestral presentation, quick piano take-up, 56ff). And, agreeing with von Bülow, she goes for exultation rather than sentimentality in the closing molto meno mosso (crotchet 94). [AO/Tchaikovsky]

Time was when Saint-Saëns Four was at least as popular as the Second. Paderewski had it in his repertory, and Cortot made his Philharmonic Society début with it at the Queen’s Hall in1911. Joyce studied the music with Cortot – in addition to working from the composer’s original manuscript in his collection. Showing us today exactly how to play and characterise the music (and engineers how to balance a Romantic sound) this is one of the all-time great performances, on a par with Casadesus and Bernstein. Epic, magnificent.

 

All releases DDD unless specified otherwise

 

 

THE LEGACY

‘What it really takes to be a pianist is courage, character, and the capacity to work. Shakespeare understood the entire human condition and so did the great composers.

As interpreters, we are not important; we are just vehicles. Our job is to communicate

the spiritual content of life as it is presented in the music.

Nothing belongs to us; all you can do is pass it along. That's the way it is.’

Joyce Hatto, August 2005

 

 

A well-mannered North London girl born into the Backhaus-Cortot-Hambourg-Horowitz-Moseiwitsch-Rachmaninov-Rubinstein-Solomon era. Groomed to believe it was ‘impolite’ to talk about what went on behind closed doors. Wartime. Private lessons. From a background when chasing after competition plaudits was something ‘only’ the Americans and Soviets did (the 1949 and ’55 Chopin, the ’52 Queen Elisabeth, would have been open to her). Concerts, teaching, touring, marriage. Stamping a domestic presence. Applauded by Tippett (‘such imagination, fantasy’), Furtwängler, Stefan Askenase, Neville Cardus (‘a British pianist to challenge the German supremacy in Beethoven and Brahms’). A handful of early ‘light’ recordings, a crop of cassette releases, a harvest of late ‘serious’ CDs. Old age. Wary of the Establishment, corporation protocol, hierarchical administration, the Royal Schools of Music, the press. Cynical about the BBC and its artist/auditioning policy. Dubious of the London Four as orchestral partners conducive or generous enough with their time to meet her demands. Content every Sunday evening in the ’50s and ’60s for the likes of Moiseiwitsch, Cherkassky and Kentner, Malcolm Sargent, George Weldon and Basil Cameron, to rehearse-and-play Beethoven, Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky at Hochhauser’s Albert Hall ‘Pops’, but, Iron Curtain concessions excepted, disinclined to go down such road herself. A lady of singular views, brought up on famous friendships and glimpses of the great. Determined, headstrong, opinionated. Champion of bad-publicity composers. Mistress of multi-note extravaganzas. Happier playing abroad than at home. A born fighter for whom giving in has never been an option. Fond of quoting Muhammad Ali’s ‘Knock me down, and I’ll get up immediately’. Once at the Queen Elizabeth Hall - 21 October 1971 - I recollect her starting the last item on her programme, Chopin’s Op 53 Polonaise (substituted for the Polonaise-Fantasie), but never finishing it. No matter. There were mitigating circumstances an insertion in the programme told us, ‘an unfortunate collision on the motorway’. Charmingly apologising, she let fly the Military Polonaise from Op 40 instead. You remember and admire people for that sort of courage, more sometimes than for their victories.

Joyce Hatto. A recording artist like few half-a-century ago could have imagined. A pianist who from Krish learnt well the importance of unruffled sound and ‘finished’ presentation. The public, he would say, ‘must never feel that you are riding on the edge of a precipice. Look happy and sound happy and work on [your pieces] until your audience is able to forget the difficulties, your difficulties’. A consummate musician commanding an extraordinarily diverse repertory and range of styles, steeped in the sovereign traditions and nostalgia of a Europe before empires came to an end.

 

© Ates Orga

St Cecilia’s Day 2005

The Complete Concert Artist catalogue is available from MusicWeb International

 

 

Principal References

 

AB Alan Bunting, correspondence with the author, 3 December 2005.

AH Arthur Hedley, Friends of Chopin Newsletter, October 1958, marking a recital by JH at 99 Eaton Place SW1 (formerly the London home of Mrs Edward John Sartoris née Adelaide Kemble) commemorating a concert at this address by Chopin a hundred years previously: ‘Monsieur Chopin will give a Matinée musicale, at No 99, Eaton Place, on Friday, June 23, to commence at 3 o'clock. A limited number of tickets, one guinea each, with full particulars, at Cramer, Beale & Co's, 201, Regent Street’ (The Times, 15 June 1848). Hedley, Chopin and the Nocturne, programme notes, 1953. http://www.concertartistrecordings.com/composerofthemonth.htm

AO Ates Orga, Joyce Hatto interview, Cambridge, 14 February 2005. Correspondence with the author.

AO/Tchaikovsky Ates Orga, ‘Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto: a Collector’s Guide’, Part II,

International Piano, January-February 2004.

BJ Burnett James ‘Joyce Hatto - A Pianist of Extraordinary Personality and Promise’,

MusicWeb International, 3 March 2003.

http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2003/Mar03/Hatto.htms

GB George Byrd, correspondence with the author, 17 November 2005.

HS Humphrey Searle, booklet annotation, 1952, Liszt Études Vol II, Concert Artist CACD 9132-2

(1st edition release).

JH/Bax Joyce Hatto, ‘A Personal Reflection’, Bax Symphonic Variations, Concert Artist CACD 9021-2.

JH/Chopin Joyce Hatto, booklet annotation, Chopin Études 75th Anniversary Edition,

Concert Artist CACD 9243-2.

RD Richard Dyer, Joyce Hatto profile, Boston Globe, 21 August 2005.

WB-C William Barrington-Coupe, information communicated to the author, 2003-05.

 

 

 

A contributor to The New Grove, Tom Deacon’s Great Pianists of the 20th Century series (Philips) and International Piano, ATES ORGA was for some years Lecturer in Music at the University of Surrey before taking up an appointment at Istanbul Technical University in 2000.

As a record producer he has worked with many pianists including

Nelly Akopian-Tamarina, Dmitri Alexeev, Nikolai Demidenko, Pavel Gililov,

Marc-André Hamelin, Vladimir Krainev, Piers Lane, and Nikolai Petrov.

POSTSCRIPT 18-10-07

Part 1 The Artist

Part 2 The Recordings

 

Joyce Hatto - POSTSCRIPT

‘Dead men don’t talk.’

William Barrington-Coupe,

Regent Street, Cambridge, 24 August 2003

 

My survey of Joyce Hatto (1928-2006) went online thirteen months before ‘Hattogate’ broke in Gramophone, 15 February 2007. Her reminiscences, William Barrington-Coupe’s role, and the ‘1973’ text ascribed to Burnett James (‘the odds are […] that the article is as bogus as the rest’: Christopher Howell MusicWeb Message Board, 21 February), have since been vigorously debated.

There are few specifics, skeletal paper-trails and not a few denials: the Liszt Society maintains ‘no recollection of contact with her’ [LS e-mail, 23 February] and Fiona Searle doesn’t remember her husband ever mentioning her name [LS e-mail, 8 March])

Against this background the Hatto story needs to be re-drawn as a tangle of truths and negatives, of the dead rising to glamorise and lend authority, of imaginary people, make-believe schemes and CDs that never happened. It’s the tale of a career that wasn’t and of a life we may never properly flesh out.

Add to this two e-mails from WB-C in as many hours on 20 August 2006. One said: ‘I am slamming the door tight. Tomorrow I shall finish destroying all personal correspondence […] I will never have any personal correspondence either Joyce’s or mine left for anyone to pick through. […] ALL private material is going through the shredder now this very minute. Photographs, wedding photographs, family photographs, concert programme[s] - everything that I have sorted out in the past six weeks that could get my hands on. A small selection of things have been put aside by me for MY recollections and these will eventually be posted up on the web’;

The other: ‘I have destroyed all my personal correspondence (408 letters that Joyce had saved) and letters from Joyce to me. They have been shredded and will be burned with everything else and the balance of photographs and others papers’.

Mindful that ‘the sources for a significant number of CDs and tracks [still] remain unknown’, ‘it is now widely believed that all of Joyce Hatto’s CDs [excluding Bax’s Symphonic Variations] are fakes’ (Farhan Malik) – ‘stolen’, appropriated, mined or manipulated from the digital/analogue work of others (77 as of 17 October 2007). ‘The most "jaw-dropping" scandal ever to hit the "polite" world of classical music’ (Andrys Basten).

For current overview and updates see Basten ‘The Joyce Hatto Log’; Malik ‘Joyce Hatto Identifications and Scandal’ (including WAV file image comparisons); Andrew Rose ‘Joyce Hatto - The Ultimate Recording Hoax’; Wikipedia ‘Joyce Hatto’; Wikipedia ‘William Barrington-Coupe [William H B Coupe]’; also Nicholas Cook & Craig SappPurely coincidental? Joyce Hatto and Chopin’s Mazurkas’ CHARM; Mark Singer ‘Fantasia for Piano’ The New Yorker 17 September 2007.

Notwithstanding WB-C’s professed intention to issue a ‘Hatto’ Scriabin sonata cycle from the ‘early eighties’ plus the complete Chopin polonaises (e-mail 26 April) – ‘dusting himself off and moving on to the next venture’ syndrome - the Concert Artist/Fidelio Recordings website appears to have been dormant since July 2006.

My opinion of the CDs originally selected for comment remains unchanged. The following is a list to date of the plagiarised artists involved, with thanks to Farhan Malik:

ALBENIZ Iberia Jean-François Heisser [Erato 4509-94807-2]

BEETHOVEN Sonatas Opp. 109, 110, 111 John O’Conor [Telarc 80261]

BEETHOVEN Sonatas Opp. 7, 106 John O’Conor [Telarc 80335, 80363]

BEETHOVEN Sonatas Opp. 53, 57 (Version B) John O’Conor

[Telarc 80118, 80160]

BRAHMS Piano Concerto Nos 1 Horatio Gutiérrez/RPO/André Previn

[Telarc 80252]

BRAHMS Piano Concerto No 2 Vladimir Ashkenazy/VPO/Bernard Haitink

[Decca 410 199]

CHOPIN Waltzes Nos 1-20 (Version B)

Nos 1-18 Arthur Moreira-Lima [Pro Arte 177]

Nos 19-20 Jerzy Sterczynski [Selene 9305.12]

CHOPIN Mazurkas Nos 1-57 Eugen Indjic [Claves 50-8812/3]

CHOPIN Four Rondos Joanna Trzeciak [Pavane ADW 7291]

CHOPIN Études 75th Anniversary Edition

Tracks 1, 3-5, 7-12, 14-18, 26, 27 Yuki Matsuzawa [Novalis 67533]

DEBUSSY Twenty Four Préludes Izumi Tateno [Finlandia FACD 411]

LISZT Italian Operatic Transcriptions Vol II

Track 1 Endre Hegedüs [Hungaroton HCD 31299], Francesco Nicolosi [Nuova Era 6880], Oleg Marshev [Danacord DACO 530]

Tracks 2, 4 Boris Bloch [Accord 201722]

Track 3 Endre Hegedüs [Hungaroton HCD 31299]

LISZT Années de Pèlerinage II (Italie). Venezia e Napoli

Tracks 2, 3, 7 Michel Dalberto [Denon CO 75500]

Tracks 8-10 Janina Fialkowska [Musica Viva 1035]

LISZT Études Vol II

Tracks 6-11 Yuri Didenko [Vista Vera 96006]

MOZART Eighteen Sonatas Ingrid Haebler [Denon COCO 83689-93]

PROKOFIEV War Sonatas Nos 6-8 Oleg Marshev [Danacord 391, 392]

RACHMANINOV Piano Concertos 2, 3

Yefim Bronfman/Philharmonia/Esa-Pekka Salonen [Sony 47193]

RACHMANINOV Twenty Four Preludes

Tracks 5, 16, 23, and 24 John Browning [Delos DE 3044]

SCARLATTI Eighteen Sonatas

Tracks 1, 5, 6, 10-17 Dubravka Tomšič Srebotnjak [Digital Concerto 604]

Tracks 2-4, 7-9, 18 Balázs Szokolay [Naxos 8.550252]

SAINT-SAËNS Piano Concerto No 4

Angela Brownridge/Hallé/Paul Murphy [ASV 262]

Ates Orga

18 October 2007

A more complete article will follow

 

 



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