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After the interval, a fine performance of Shostakovich's Piano Trio No 2 provided an opportunity for interplay between three powerful performers from Lithuania, Japan and Britain, when Tamami Honma was joined by Moscow Conservatoire-trained Lithuanian violinist Rusne Mataityte (known for her recordings of Balakauskas) and British cellist Sebastian Millett. The music provides a good example of the ambiguity of Shostakovich's writing, whilst at the same time managing to be extremely disturbing. It was written in response to news reaching Russia of the mass murder of Jews by the SS, and in particular, by reports of victims having to dance in front of their own graves before being shot.

Masashi Fujimoto, Artistic Director of Operest, and an experienced actor, TV personality and tenor, made two appearances at the beginning and end of this concert, in vocal music by Vaughan Williams (Songs of Travel) (accompanied by the sensitive and professional pianist Kanae Furomoto) and Sarah Rodgers (The Fire Will Blaze Again) (together with the team who played the Shostakovich). Fujimoto has a strong stage presence and is a confident singer, but he should bear in mind for future programming that the subtleties of English art song may not (yet, at least) be within his grasp. In particular, his diction, when singing in English, needs considerable improvement before performing to native British audiences, lest they mistake his efforts for some humorous new species of Banzai-style Karaoke.

The Fire Will Blaze Again by Sarah Rodgers (born 1953) is an Operest commission which creates a cycle of five liturgies from poems by Vaughan Jones, juxtaposing two events two thousand years apart -- the crucifixion and the massacre in East Timor. Rodgers' music is in a sweet (sometimes bitter-sweet), tonal, almost sentimental idiom, which makes some use of vocalise, in which Fujimoto was more successful. We hope that the fire will blaze again very soon for Masashi Fujimoto and Operest, and that the group's plan for a first staged opera for new audiences in local venues becomes a reality.

Copyright © 4 December 2003 Keith Bramich, County Mayo, Ireland

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JOHN McCABE'S LITHUANIAN DIARY

TAMAMI HONMA'S WIGMORE HALL SOLO RECITAL DEBUT

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