One of the most grown-up review sites around

2021
55,946 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here

     
  
 







International mailing


 
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider

 

paid for
advertisements


3 for 2 Offer



All Forgotten Records Reviews


TROUBADISC

100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas
All Troubadisc reviews


FOGHORN Classics


Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets
All Foghorn Reviews


Puertas de Madrid
www.emecdiscos.com
All EMEC reviews


www.emecdiscos.com
All EMEC reviews


All Reference Recordings


Eugène Ysaÿe: Violin Discoveries
review
All Divine Art Reviews


Debussy Complete Preludes

 


 


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
   
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Postmaster
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

 

Discs for review may be sent to:
Jonathan Woolf
76 Lushes Road
Loughton
Essex IG10 3QB
United Kingdom
Ph. 020 8418 0616
jonathan_woolf@yahoo.co.uk


 

REVIEW
RECORDING OF THE MONTH
Plain text for smartphones & printers

Support us financially by purchasing
this through MusicWeb
for £14.99 postage paid world-wide.

Dumka
Modest MUSSORGSKY (1839-1881)
Pictures at an Exhibition [33:53]
Mikhail GLINKA (1804-1857)
L’Alouette (transcribed by Mily Balakirev) [5:24]
Mily BALAKIREV (1837-1910)
Islamey, Op. 18 [8:43]
Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Dumka, Op. 59 [8:53]
Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971)
Three dances from The Firebird (transcribed by Guido Agosti) [11:14]
Kotaro Fukuma (piano)
rec. 2014, West Rock, Cognac, France
EDITIONS HORTUS 115 [68:07]

Japanese pianist Kotaro Fukuma keeps getting better and better. Turning 33 years old later this year, he landed on the scene in 2005 with a very good Schumann recital on Naxos, and then surveyed Toru Takemitsu’s piano music for the same label. Fukuma moved on to Denon and Editions Hortus, with a couple albums I haven’t heard, before appearing on MusicWeb International’s radar in 2013 with a fantastic Debussy recital.

It’s a joy to watch a young artist elevate his artistry with every new release. This Russian album is yet another step upward. It has some very big names (Mussorgsky’s Pictures, Islamey) mixed in with little-known works that deserve the same headline treatment. In memory of his teacher Busoni, Guido Agosti took the three final sections from the Firebird Suite and compressed them for piano. It’s a series of fireworks, especially the Infernal Dance, and Fukuma plays it to the hilt. He’s got virtuosity and panache in spades; if you’re going to listen to the Firebird on piano, it doesn’t get better. I wonder what Fukuma sounds like doing the piano version of La valse.

At the opposite end of the expressive spectrum, we have Tchaikovsky’s Dumka, probably my favourite piano piece by that composer. It’s a longer, more drawn-out and fully developed piece than the dumka dances by Dvorįk, and the anguished tone forbids the possibility of Tchaikovsky using one of his trademark balletic melodies. Fukuma shapes his performance beautifully. He does a sensitive job, too, with a lyrical transcription of a Glinka song.

The big draw is Mussorgsky’s Pictures, in a clean, crisp performance highlighted by the steady rhythm and drive of the promenades, Fukuma’s precise articulation of fast-fingered scenes like the market in Limoges, and his general mastery of piano tone and color. This is not the most distinctive reading, but when you combine a great instrument (Steinway D, in this case), a great microphone setup, and an artist who knows how to fully exploit those two things, the result is almost always rewarding. This is a state-of-the-art recording, proving that the label’s engineers have also improved since Fukuma’s Debussy recital.

If Kotaro Fukuma isn’t already on your shortlist of young pianists to follow closely, it’s time you added him. If you don’t think that Stravinsky’s Firebird could work on the piano, then you have another think coming.

Brian Reinhart



 

 



Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and keep us afloat

 

New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews


All Chandos reviews


All Hyperion reviews


All Foghorn reviews


All Troubadisc reviews


Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews


All Eloquence reviews


All Lyrita Reviews

 


Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month

November


Donizetti - Le Convenienze ed Inconvenienze Teatrali


Chamber Symphonies 2 & 4


French Cello Concertos

 

October


Shostakovich