Thursday, January 20, 2011

Review of my recital in the Wigmore Hall

The Independent gave me 5 STARS for my Wigmore Hall recital!
Here is the review, which appeared on the 18th of January.

The guru principle holds good in Western classical music as it does in the music of the East. Kotaro Fukuma's programme note suggests he's collected a whole gallery of gurus: if he's drawn the key element from each, he should have crossed Leon Fleisher's Teutonic power with Aldo Ciccolini's Italian finesse, and Richard Goode's serene classicism with Maria Joao Pires's bold Romanticism; Mitsuko Uchida's fastidious intensity with Leslie Howard's virtuosity.


He opened his Wigmore recital with three of Schumann's Novelletten - pieces exploring the piano's texture, and pervaded by a curiously inward mood. Working on a large canvas, and with oils rather than watercolours, he gave each a vivid characterisation. His touch ranged from cantabile sweetness to sinewy muscularity, but there was no forcing of the music's fugitive emotions.

With Chopin's grandest Nocturne (in C minor) followed by his most majestic Ballade (in F minor), Fukuma then took things onto a more exalted plane. The opening of the Nocturne had an imperial spaciousness, with the arpeggiated chords being caressed rather than struck. The Ballade had a nobly singing tone, and its variations finally wound to a blaze of virtuoso magnificence. Perfectly judged and immaculate, this was playing such as one rarely encounters. Fukuma's physical relaxaion was reflected in his consistently beautiful sound.

Then, after using a silk handkerchief to wipe the sweat off the keys, he launched into Liszt, and into the empyrean. First came two concert studies, "Waldesrauschen" and "Gnomenreigen", and I have never heard the latter played with such velvet-pawed brilliance. Then came "Grande Etude de Perfectionnement" and six "Grandes Etudes de Paganini". These electrified Fukuma's packed audience much as Liszt and Paganini must have done theirs. As one finger-breaker followed another, and with his crossed hands moving like humming birds, he delivered this demonic music as though nothing could have been more natural. Everything had an airy lightness, and a bewitching beauty.

Then came three encores, by Liszt, Albeniz, and Chopin: the first and third exquisite, the second full of gutsy southern warmth.
A fabulous artist, and at 28 a prince among peers.

by Michael Church