FringeReview UK 2019
Mike Hatchard plays Schubert Piano Sonata in A minor D784. And Chopin Etude No.2 A minor, and Fantasie Impromptu Op 66 two Bach Preludes and Fugues from Book 1, Nos. 3 and 5, Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin, Gershwin Medley and a Hatchard Medley.
Mike Hatchard’s been a fixture on that extraordinarily fertile crossover scene for some time now. He’s a pianist whose jazz medleys and own compositions along that spectrum have won instant applause and is a comfort zone he nevertheless feels compels to challenge by essaying a strict classical repertoire where his own work and indeed medleys feature as built-in encores. In this arena at least he proves a virtuoso, and he’s never les than exquisitely musicianly throughout.
He began with a lucid, carefully moulded Chopin Etude No. 2 in A minor before moving on to the single largest item the Schubert Piano Sonata in A minor D784. It’s a craggy, exploratory work and Hatchard’s particular gift to it is his way of looking closely at the metronomic markings and seeing what on earth is going on. He makes of it what a few other pianists make, but none quite so tellingly: a gothic piece, full of those agog silences and halts studded through even large-scale works such as this. The opening Allegro Giusto too finds Hatchard opening up the textures to show what we hear is frighteningly chromatic, dark, and though riven with joy, reminding us that Schubert uniquely essays tragedy in the major. The brief Andante is haunted, and the Allegro Vivace though more resolved as such is thewed with shadows.
He essayed Bach Preludes and Fugues from Book 1, 3 and 5, and this is where I think Hatchard particularly loves to be, though he suggests the fugues make him nervous. The No. 3 in C sharp major is an alert chippy piece where Hatchard delights in contrapuntal jouissance. The D major is radiant, a happy piece.
It was interspersed by an appropriately baroque reading of Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin first movement, which pays homage to the great Clavecinist, Hatchard choosing a contrapuntal underlining, almost choppiness, to underline its provenance whilst honouring Ravel’s jewel-like pointillism on the notes and the overall line, though with les flowingness than some would choose. He thus in one sense strips back to Ravel’s intentions.
Chopin’s Fantasie Impromptu Op 66 found dark and sudden release where Hatchard let the contrapuntal go in a flight of lyricism. And this clearly obtained in his marvellous home territory with two works of his own devising. The zingy Gershwin Medley starting with ‘Someone to watch Over Me’ and a Hatchard Medley which was quite stunning. I wish Hatchard would bring more of himself to his recitals like this
We go away with a fresh take on Schubert’s sonata, and an uneasily forensic one on Ravel, with lucid Bach and lyrical Chopin. And at the end, a composer one delights in. Hatchard’s always individual, and when you tune in to his concertizing, as many do, it’s easy to understand why one commentator publicly claimed the recital as outstanding.