investigations into corners of the repertoire is, of course,
to be applauded. Yet music that is, to be completely frank,
not of the very first rate, needs, more than anything else,
an interpreter who can fight the composer's cause as if for
life itself, not to mention someone who possesses a technique
of the very highest order.
Madoka Inui - see
her superbly produced website (http://www.madokamusic.com/)
impressed me with her accompaniments on the Naxos disc, 'The
Art of the Vienna Horn' (see
so it is good to see her featured in her own right. She is
clearly extremely musical. The only real criticism that surfaces
from time to time is a certain literalness. Perhaps this is
Inui trying not to over-emote - a trap that must be easy to
fall into in music like this - and moving too far to the opposite
end of the spectrum. It is a trait that manifests most obviously
in the Fantasie, Op. 18, and it is this very literalism
that robs the 'Allegro con fuoco' of its 'fuoco'. At 6'35 she
could sparkle - the music begs it - and she fails to. The Larghetto
e cantabile section of this Fantasie is like a Chopin
Nocturne in its filigree, yet Inui misses the requisite note
of fantasy and nothing in the finale ('Presto') will set
your pulse racing.
The G minor Fantasie,
Op. 123 boasts movements inspired - although one has to be
careful with word-choice here! - by the poet Barry Cornwall
(1787-1874). If the 'Hunter's Song' (second movement) is nice
and robust, the fourth movement, entitled 'The Bloodhound'
fails in its remit whichever way one looks at it. 'Sweet' is
not really a word one would associate with these creatures,
and even if the idea is that the movement is in praise of a
man's last friend after his Romantic roaming, there is no hint
of anything remotely either canine nor valedictory. But sweetness,
yes, lots of it.
'Sweet' is a word
that crops up again for the Rondo, Op. 19 ('quasi una
fantasia'), although Inui seems to have developed a habit of
punching chords for this work. The work entitled 'La contemplazione'
offers nice contrast, imbued as it is with a quasi-Schubertian
sense of resignation. This is the best item on the disc, with
plenty of tendresse in evidence.
The final two items
are almost in the spirit of encores. Inui clearly enjoys the
Paganini recollections; 'Campanella' will probably be the clearest
memory for most. The 'Fantasina' (great word) on Mozart's 'Non
più andrai' is a light bit of fluff to end with. And great
fun it is, too.
A mixed reception,
then. Madoka Inui is a pianist who promises much, and her career
will certainly be worth tracking. Her solid technique is certainly
admirable on its own merits, but when she can in effect forget
her own technique and really give herself to the music she
elects to champion, then we shall hear what she really can
see also review by Patrick C Waller