Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The FIFA Women's World Cup

The last Sunday, the final match of the FIFA Women's World Cup was held in Frankfurt. I watched it on TV with about 15 friends (including 10 Japanese) in a cafe in Berlin, and we all cheered the Japanese team. Each time the chance and the pinch came, we screamed so loud that the other customers and the waiters were frightened and even the cooks came out of the kitchen!

During the last PK, we held hands each other, forming a circle around the table and sending our spiritual energy... And our wish came true!!

It was the greatest and most emotional football match I had ever seen, and I was fascinated to see how the Japanese team held their toughness and natural self until the last moment of the match. Actually the members saw the video of the Japanese disaster the before the final match and agreed to fight for the victims. So this victory has a lot of meaning to us Japanese.

I would like to thank the Japanese female football team for their wonderful play and their strong and humble attitude throughout the whole event!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Review of my Liszt CD

Here is the review of my Liszt CD in Musical Opinion.

Mostly these have been recorded before, including by some great pianists, but Fukuma, winner of several international prizes, adds an extreme rarity, Ab Irato. Its impetuous, almost violent staccato triplets sound as angry as the Latin title implies and it was written for the 1840 Fétis and Moscheles Méthode de Méthodes - to which Chopin contributed his Trois Nouv- elles Etudes. But Liszt, as so very often, revised and in this case slightly expanded, and it is the 1852 version, with its hint of Les Préludes, that Fukuma gives us, playing with exactly the right degree of unconquerable fervour.

He is equally though differently impressive in another comparative rarity, ll Lamento, first of the Trois Etudes. This starts like a duo for soprano and tenor voices, then soprano alone, then two sopranos; then it is just the keyboard and Liszt's pianistic ingenuity and nobility of expression here make the item's neglect inexcusable. It is indeed more dramatic and varied than its two companion pieces, La Leggierezza and Un Sospiro, although Fukuma shapes these with the most sensitive rubato.

He does equally well amid the woodland spells of Waldesrauschen and the fantastic legerdemain of Gnomenreigen, which leaves us mainly with the Paganini Etudes, of which he plays the 1851 revision, not the over-elaborated 1838 originals. These in fact open the programme and the beautiful evenness of the tremolos in all registers of the G minor piece suggests the quality of pianism we are going to hear. No.2 is as immaculate as any reading I have heard, delivered with all necessary force when needed and with verve throughout. Perhaps Fukuma does not make the perdendosi of the final bars of No.5 quite so affecting as Kentner did in his 1949 recording (Pearl GEM0148) yet the grace and scintillating delicacy of La Campanella are extraordinary.

Rapsodie espagnole is another transcendental essay yet seems an anticlimax after the high concentration of all the etudes. Also it is somewhat over-extended for its thematic material, there being a degree of virtuoso inflation on Liszt's part here. Yet this is another heroic performance by Fukuma.

By Max Harrison