A delightful and very well played disc of British miniatures
played by a young Japanese pianist who studied in the UK with a distinguished
collection of teachers - including Hamish Milne, the late Alexander
Kelly and Raphael Terroni.
Ms Ida clearly has a love of these little pieces and
responds with surprising maturity to their wistful moods and poetic
challenges. Though many of the works have tricky corners, none are exactly
barn-stormingly virtuosic - but the purely musical challenges are many
and varied and met with a refreshing naturalness, assured technique
The contribution of Lennox Berkeley to piano literature
cannot be over-estimated and will hopefully be further recognised in
2003 - his centenary year. The op23 Preludes are some of his most frequently
played pieces and Ms Ida manages to find the essential jewel-like clarity
to make the running semi-quavers of the first Prelude sound much easier
than they actually are. The other two have sparkle and melancholy in
equal proportion, whilst taking care to steer clear of overt sentimentality.
The Poulencian short pieces are charming - but itís a pity there was
no room for the full set.
Britten may well have been a wonderful pianist but
wrote less than wonderful music for piano solo. It is interesting that
this recital focuses in part on composers who are not readily associated
with this medium - Holst and Delius as well as Britten - all beautifully
coloured and played, but not even such championing can dissuade this
writer from thinking that they are ultimately uninteresting works. The
Britten in particular shows the composer at his driest and most uninvolved.
The remaining pieces are of course all idiomatic and
grateful to play and to listen to. "In a Vodka Shop" has bite and humour,
the still underrated York Bowen sparkles, but best of all are the Ireland
pieces - I have never understood why this wonderful music is not in
the repertoire of every self respecting pianist. Ms Ida relishes the
demanding florid arabesques of "Amberley Wild Brooks" and finds the
tenderness in the calmer world of "The Towing Path" - in amongst all
this early twentieth century music it is good to hear Sterndale Bennett's
"The Millstream". A small point that arises from the proof reading of
the notes - Sterndale Bennett's dates were by all accounts (1916-1875!)
and quite what "....approaching the blink of tonality..." means (when
referring to Frank Bridge) one can only guess! - that apart a most auspicious
solo recital that deserves the widest circulation and recommendation.