Sing to Water

Sing to Water—Kotaro Fukuma, piano (Esprit du Piano [EDP] 2)

Jeremy Nicholas, Gramophone: “The Japanese pianist Kotaro Fukuma, now in his early thirties, begins this impressive album with his own arrangement of Smetana’s Vltava…Part of the pleasure of hearing this orchestral tone poem transferred to the keyboard with such aplomb is that one entirely forgets that this is not an original piano piece.  The same is true of the much-recorded Schulz-Evler Blue Danube. The raison d’être for this ‘concert arabesque’ is to charm and astonish – and there really is no point in entering this particular arena if you are not on the right wavelength (no pun intended). Overcook it, and the whole soufflé collapses. Fukuma’s boldly projected account is dispatched with a mischievous twinkle and can take its place alongside Bolet, Hamelin and (the ultimate accolade) Josef Lhévinne, whose final octave bombardment on his (abridged) 1928 classic has been the envy of every pianist since. In between these comes the imaginative choice of Bizet’s Songs of the Rhine, a suite of six short pieces that reminds us of Bizet in his earlier incarnation as a virtuoso pianist and gifted melodist...After this, Fukuma abandons named rivers and, for the most part, unbridled virtuosity. The music takes on a more reflective mood with a nicely etched sequence of Mendelssohn, Chopin and Liadov pieces, progressing in a gradual decrescendo to Salvatore Sciarrino’s witty and brief Anamorfosi (Ravel meets Gene Kelly), Heino Kaski’s lushly nostalgic Night by the Sea…and ending with Saint-Saëns’s The Swan in Godowsky’s arrangement. In this – and indeed throughout this disc – Fukuma shows that grace and tonal nuance are equally important constituents of his pianistic armory as his impressive bravura credentials.” (The link sends you Kotaro’s website.)

 

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