A programme like this of three standard-fare favourite masterpieces
smacks more of a student’s demo CD than the work of an
artist intent on carving out an individual niche in the crowded
market of recorded music.
As such it’s a classy product. Not many students could
afford a recording of such effortlessly full sonority and ringing
resplendence. And if not many artists since the days of Wilhelm
Kempff and his ilk can have played the French overture-style
introduction to the Bach Partita without a double dot in sight,
Wilhelm Kempff and his ilk would have approved the rich sound,
as well as the contrapuntal clarity and vital, translucent touch
of what follows, allied with forward-moving but unexaggerated
Establishment Bach is succeeded by establishment Beethoven,
bold but never manic, tingling vitality arising from the finger-work
rather than the speeds, which are actually on the steady side.
One could hardly fail to enjoy this, or deny that the demo shows
what it has to show. And yet ...
Already in my own student days, back in the 1970s, the conservatoires
of Europe were overrun by promising young students, many of
them from Japan, with an unfailing ability to produce instant
excellence of this kind, but also with an unfailing inability
to provide a valid reason why we should listen to one of them
rather than another. The supply has not dropped off, as far
as I know, so where so much excellence all ended up is anyone’s
Imaginative programme-building can be a way - on CD at least
- for artists to carve out a space for themselves among their
equals. Fujisawa might give a thought to this next time. Indeed,
her CV - for she is not really a debutante and has been playing
regularly in London, Japan and elsewhere for about a decade
- suggests that she is a good deal more adventurous in the concert
hall than this cautious “demo” suggests.
However, the present offering does provide a hint that she can
blaze a trail of her own even in standard fare, and this comes
in the Schubert.
In a certain sense the recipe is the same. Only, applied to
Schubert, it is individual, almost revelatory. She does not
pussy-foot around. She plays with neither old-world schmaltz
nor with the neurotic introspection of post-Brendel interpreters.
The first Impromptu is exploratory yet forward-moving, majestic
without heaviness. The second is not a pretty exercise in “jeux
perlées”, it has strength, and passion too in the
central section. In the third one might wish for greater intimacy,
while admiring and succumbing to the open flood-tides. Most
remarkable is the last, a little slower than usual, with pain,
even vehemence in the outer sections and darkly powerful in
the central episode. I shall certainly come back to this whenever
Schubert Impromptus are under consideration and I can’t
help wishing she had filled the disc with the other set of Impromptus
rather than the anonymously excellent Bach and Beethoven. A
Schubert cycle from Fujisawa, on this showing, could be an interesting,
even exciting prospect.