© 2024 Ideastream Public Media

1375 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44115
(216) 916-6100 | (877) 399-3307

WKSU is a public media service licensed to Kent State University and operated by Ideastream Public Media.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Isata Kanneh-Mason: Childhood Tales

Decca Classics

Childhood Tales—Isata Kanneh-Mason, piano; Royal Liverpool Philharmonic/Domingo Hindoyan (Decca 4854180)

This is the British pianist’s third album on Decca Classics, released worldwide in May. She is the eldest of seven musical siblings, one of whom—brother Sheku—played the Elgar Cello Concerto with The Cleveland Orchestra in 2021.  Isata evokes the magic of childhood in this collection, centered around Ernő Dohnányi’s Variations on a Nursery Song.  It’s a piece that expands Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star into a virtuosic and sometimes hilarious romp capped by a fugal finale. She is joined by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, with whom she previously recorded Clara Schumann’s Piano Concerto. The conductor is Domingo Hindoyan, a musician who came through the famous Venezuelan musical education program El Sistema. From a young age, Isata Kanneh-Mason has had a special affinity for Mozart and she recalls playing the composer’s Variations on the French song, Ah, vous dirai-je, Maman (aka, that Nursery Song Dohnányi used).  Mozart wrote the piece when he was around Isata’s age, and it is the perfect showpiece to pair with Dohnányi’s Variations.  Music evoking the innocence of childhood by Claude Debussy and Robert Schumann completes this program.  Children’s Corner is a six-movement suite Debussy wrote for his 6-year-old daughter, while Schumann’s Scenes from Childhood are pure adult nostalgia. In an interview with Katherine Cooper on the Presto Music website, Isata says, “I’ve known Debussy’s Children’s Corner for years, but Schumann’s Kinderszenen is something I discovered much later in life…I only learnt it about a year ago. The opening of the piece [Of Foreign Lands and People] gets me every time, because I just think the harmony in those first four bars is so beautiful. That first movement was used in Greta Gerwig’s 2019 film of Little Women in a way that I found really moving.”