REVIEW: Classical music concert season in Sidmouth begins with recital by Japanese pianist

Pianist Reiko Fujisawa. Picture: Contributed

Pianist Reiko Fujisawa. Picture: Contributed - Credit: Contributed

Reiko Fujisawa recital is the first in a series of monthly concerts running until March

Japanese pianist Reiko Fujisawa launched the Sidmouth Music concert season with a recital in the Parish Church on Saturday, October 6.

Reiko took up the piano at the age of three at home in Japan. Her studies, and later her career, brought her to London where she is now based, and she performs across the UK and overseas. For her recital in Sidmouth, she chose a programme centred on the life of Clara Schumann as composer and pianist.

The second Intermezzo from opus 119 by Clara’s great friend Brahms provided a gentle opening piece, given clear open phrasing by Reiko, reflecting its introspective personal nature.

Two of Clara’s own compositions followed. A Scherzo, written at age 20, showing her love of Chopin’s style, was bright and sparkling and driven along at a rolling pace. A Romance, opus 21, was given suitably restless, more searching, treatment.

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The Pathétique sonata, intended to represent Clara’s renown at playing Beethoven’s works, was given a muscular and vigorous presentation by Reiko. She was almost aggressive with the weighty chords of the first movement but then showed lyricism in the gentle second before driving on to the agitated end of the third.

Reiko closed her first half with a song, Frühlingsnacht, by Robert Schumann. Transcribed by Liszt for piano, the piece was typically bright and virtuosic.

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After the interval came three Impromptus by Clara’s hero, Chopin. Starting with number two, Reiko gave an airy feel to the introduction, an appropriately portentious march section and florid ending. She followed this with number one, alternately exuberant and introspective as the moods progressed. The last of the three was number four, in which Reiko showed charm while avoiding over-sentimentality. These were well received, numbers two and four inducing in the audience the silence of deep attention.

The major piece in the second half was Robert Schumann’s Viennese Carnival Jest, its five movements showing Reiko virtuosic, wistful, jolly, passionate and energetic in turn. Finally, Reiko produced another Liszt transcription of one of Schumann’s songs, Widmung; a short but yet powerful statement of love from prospective husband to wife.

Stephen Huyshe Shires

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