This début CD from 22 year old violinist Mayuko Kamio shows real
individuality and rising maturity. It’s an interesting programme
well-suited to her polished technique and excellent tone, which
she intuitively adapts to suit each of the works. For those who
have not yet encountered this artist the present CD makes for
a welcoming introduction.
As the youngest winner of the 1998 Menuhin International Violin Competition,
Ms. Kamio found international fame when she won the Gold Medal
at the International Tchaikovsky Competition nine years later.
Like her co-patriots Akiko Suwanai and Midori Goto, Ms. Kamio
studied under the famed pedagoguge Dorothy Delay at the Juilliard
School of Music. At present she continues her studies at the
Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Zurich under the instruction of Zakhar Bron. Over the past decade, she has
made extensive concert tours working with some of the world’s
most esteemed orchestras, including the Israel Philharmonic
(with Zubin Mehta), Russian National Orchestra (with Vladimir
Spivakov) and the Boston Pops (with Keith Lockhart).
The Waxman Carmen-Fantasie was one of the required pieces that
Ms. Kamio had under her fingers at the Tchaikovsky Competition
in 2007. Once again, this arrangement started off beautifully
well with, an energetic and polished reading - technically flawless.
The soaring lines of this piece displayed her well-developed
sense of drama and flair. For those who saw Ms. Kamio’s live
performance on stage it was clear that, her stupendous left-hand
security and spectacular bow-arm technique were critical in
securing her sound production. On the recording she admirably
creates that very same impression of serenity and cheerfulness.
Vadim Gladkov likewise also draws a lot of detail from this
vivid and colourful score.
Tchaikovsky’s Valse-Scherzo Op.34 was heard here in its frequently
recorded violin and piano version. This knotty piece, incidentally
a noted Milstein speciality, here receives a bravura reading,
arched and idiomatic. The recording engineers Will Brown and
Tim Adam-Smith had captured Kaio’s velvet or pungent Stradivarius
1727 instrument in high definition. Even those long sated by
the market’s offerings of this piece may be pleased with this
Szymanowski’s expressive, lyric modernism has attracted plenty of fond
admirers in recent years. During the turning decade of the
1900s, Szymanowski was introduced to Pelléas, Firebird
and Petrushka. Their enriching influences can be
felt in his compositions of that period. The Mythes draw
on classical subjects. A musician with a commanding technique
- just listen to her impressive double-stops, harmonics, quarter
tones and glissandi - Ms. Kamio has the fanciful musical imagination
and intelligence to play these three pieces. At times, her intonation
and tonal purity seem a bit lacking in colour and luster, such
as in the opening quarter-tone trills of Dryades et Pan that
depicts the summer wind. Overall though credit must be given
for real poise and control. Gladkov’s contribution is more than
competent with his playing indicating that he is more than comfortable
with this music. Unfortunately the recording places him in the
background, almost in his own acoustic space.
In Tchaikovsky’s celebrated Méditation Op.42 No.1 from Souvenir
d’un lieu cher Ms Kamio has a darkly lingering quality in
the most ruminative and lyrical passages as well as a heart-on-the-sleeve
sincerity in the Mischa Elman tradition. Best of all, though,
was her stunningly mature performance of the Chausson Poème.
This piece suits her playing perfectly. With her fluid phrasing
she challenges the great names of the past. The disc ends with
Stravinsky’s Suite Italienne, where the players bring
out the beauty of Pergolesi’s original melodies and the piquant
flavor of Stravinsky’s modifications in alternately waspish
and graceful sounds. The Tarantella has the fingers of
both musicians in ceaseless motion, while the Gavotte and
Variations are held in demure balance. A shimmering and
nervous Scherzino is brought to its height in the Menuetto
and Finale, bold and majestic, but then swiftly facile.
The individuality of Ms. Kamio’s performance lies in her vibrancy,
delicacy and control of tone and articulation,.
This pair of musicians clearly enjoy their music-making in every measure.
At the ripe age of 22, Mayuko Kamio shows all the signs of becoming
an accomplished and individual violinist. An interesting innovation
from Sony-BMG was the inclusion of fine caricature-drawings
by Ms. Kamio herself. Excellent!