<< -- 3 -- Peter Dickinson PERSUASIVE INFLUENCE
The recital at the Royal Academy came after the members of the Verdehr Trio had spent a day coaching three student groups in works they had commissioned. They opened with Higdon's Dash and Tower's Rainwaves, then gave the first performance of Songs (2005) by the young Japanese composer Akane Tsuji-Nakanishi. After studying at the National Tokyo University of Fine Arts and Music, she continued her training in London, first at Goldsmiths College, then at King's College, London, where she was a pupil of Harrison Birtwistle and completed her PhD in composition. She is now an assistant professor at Kiyagi Gakium Women's University and her career in Tokyo includes a partnership as pianist with her husband, the tenor Hirohisa Tsuji. They are keen on promoting British music and have made two CDs of Britten's songs on the Japanese FAUEM label. FMC 5040 and FMC 5045.
Tsuji's Songs -- twelve separate movements -- are based on Japanese haiku, waka, and other poetry from ancient times to the twentieth century. As might be expected, there is a delicate Japanese flavour about her response to the poetry. Some songs are very short, even witty; there are some attractive Viennese/Japanese waltzes; but there are perhaps too many songs to sustain interest in the later part of this collection.
The Verdehr Trio
The Verdehr Trio then embarked on the truly taxing Triada (1 + 2 = 3) (2004) by the Spanish composer Cristobal Halffter. This was twenty minutes of exposure to the slings and arrows of gritty mainstream modernism at a time when the audience, unlike the indefatigable performers, was beginning to flag. Then, as a surprise ending, came the folk-inspired Suite (1992) by the octogenarian Armenian composer Alexander Arutiunian. For its date it was thoroughly old-fashioned but it showed its quality -- and so did the performers throughout.