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It was apt to follow this with Debussy -- who both explored Japanese idioms and exerted an important influence on Takemitsu. Here Asuka Nakamura imbued each movement with a fresh sense of colour, notably the famous 'Clair de Lune', in which the textural layering and nuance of pedalling brought out of the impressionistic gestures to magical, dreamy effect. The spontaneous applause was deserved, whilst the polished elegance of the 'Prelude and Menuet', and the pointed articulation of the bristling concluding 'Passepied' affirmed a special affinity for Debussy. Similarly idiomatic was her performance of Kunio Toda's atmospheric Fantasy on Koto Tunes, a rather attractive, stimulating post-modern synthesis of Japanese traditional and European elements. The music alludes to the sounds of the ancient string instrument through bold repeated chords at the outset, which are set against the antithesis of fugal imitation alluding to Bachian archetypes. That confrontation was vividly projected in Asuko Nakamura's spacious canvas in which she switched mercurially from the evocative sonorities, rapid repeated notes, wide spaced chords and resonant overtones, to the more driving momentum of the counterpoint. As a fizzing finale Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No 10 was a tour de force that showed off the young pianist's virtuoso zest to telling effect. In the 'Friska's' glistening glissandos the piano's tone glowed resonantly. Fortunately, the capacity audience would not leave without an encore, and the beautifully shaded impressionism of Ravel's Sonatine again affirmed her sensibility for this repertoire.

At St James's Church, Piccadilly the next day (14 December), she performed a Beethoven recital which included the 'Tempest' sonata. These concerts augure well for her continued success in concert platforms in Britain and internationally. It will be fascinating to follow the development of this young talented pianist in future.

Copyright © 21 December 2001 Malcolm Miller, London, UK





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