Reviews for the new Naxos Tchaikovsky disc:
International Piano, September 2017
The Etude that opens Tchaikovsky’s Op 40 indicates this music is hardly of ‘moderate’ difficulty. It does show that Japanese pianist Mami Shikimori’s technique is stunning, however, while the ‘Chanson triste’ and the ‘Marche funebre’ reveal her capacity for profundity. Op 40 was penned just after the Symphony No 4 and Eugene Onegin, and a similar depth of sorrow surfaces here and there. Some music is decidedly of the salon, while keen-eared listeners will recognise an affinity with Swan Lake in the ‘Danse russe.’The Souvenir de Hapsal is marginally better served on disc, and again Shikimori carves a niche for herself, capturing the misterioso of the first piece perfectly, while her sweet tone for the well-known ‘Chant sans paroles’ captivates. Four charming miniatures complete this delightful disc of the byways of Tchaikovsky’s piano output. © 2017 International Piano
“Gems worth discovering” (Classic FM)
“Never dull….This is a worthy addition.” (Fanfare)
American Record Guide, July 2017
Japanese pianist Shikimori is new to me, and she is very much worth watching for. She brings to these small pieces the same level of musicianship and attention to detail that you might expect in a Beethoven sonata. Each one was engaging; and the entire, very generous, program seemed to be over too soon. I could easily go on for another full disk of relatively minor Tchaikovsky pieces when they are played this well. I can only hope that this could be the beginning of a project.
© 2017 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide
Record Geijutsu (Art of Records), July 2017
…Mami Shikimori has released an unusual Tchaikovsky disc. Tchaikovsky wrote numerous short piano pieces that were dedicated to people around him and to his musician friends, as well as many studies for students. These are fine and stylish works with a poetic and warm atmosphere. This album contains many such pieces, not often heard on the concert stage. Mami Shikimori plays these works with ease, with astoundingly beautiful pearl-like tone, intimate expression and always full of feeling. Listening to this disc leaves you feeling enriched, as though having spent time in an intimate music salon. A disc that guarantees an enchanting time. © 2017 Record Geijutsu
Ongaku no Tomo, July 2017
…a recording by the young pianist Mami Shikimori and includes a lot of rarely heard works such as 12 Pieces, Souvenir de Hapsal, Valse-Scherzo Nos 1 & 2 and Capriccio. These are all splendid Tchaikovsky masterworks, and furthermore the playing of Mami Shikimori is simply marvellous. I would like as many people as possible to listen to this wonderful disc. © 2017 Ongaku no Tomo
The Musician, June 2017
Shikimori’s versatile style illuminates the many shades of Capriccio and spins the lyrical lines of Chanson Triste with stunning purity. © 2017 The Musician
Review Corner, April 2017
…pianist Mami Shikimori making the pieces sound at their best… © 2017 Review Corner
Musical Opinion, April 2017
…we have to thank Naxos and their fearless championship of the unfamiliar in music, from the greatest composers to the least-known, and in this instance the stylish and committed playing of Mami Shikimori, who brings to each one of these brief studies a degree of refinement and musicianship that are a joy to hear. The recording, at Wyastone Leys by Michael Ponder, is of a very high standard, resulting in a disc which deserves every success. © 2017 Musical Opinion
Emperor Concerto with the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra “spellbinding the packed audience of 1700″ (The Yomiuri Shimbun)
Mozart – Rondo in A minor K51 I/Brahms – Sonata No 3 Op 5/Ravel – La Valse Claudio CR 6002-2
“Excellent performances by this very gifted young Japanese pianist, particularly of the Brahms Sonata – a titan of the solo piano repertoire but one of which Ms Shikimori has the full measure. Hers is a deeply impressive account, and her playing of the fiendishly difficult solo piano version of Ravel’s La Valse is also brilliantly successful. A most successful issue.” ***** (Musical Opinion)
“the playing is elegant and pristine, beautifully phrased and full of color. It is a pleasure to see old friends in new surroundings, and it is a pleasure as well to hear these two moving works at a new vantage point through the forthright and loving hands (and fingers) of this fine artist.” (Fanfare, USA)
“Shikimori’s every touch brings out beautiful nuances from the melodic lines.” (The Recording Arts, Japan)
“Emphasis on transparent and lyrical sound… reaching the innermost depths of this composer. Fresh and sparkling.” (CD Journal, Japan)
“What was truly remarkable was the quality of the interpretations of all the works in the programme.” (Wigmore Hall recital, Musical Opinion)
“Shikimori turned it into a major, multi-faceted experience…A big-scale performance, with its broad range of tone colour and emotion” (Oxford Times)
Oxford Proms, Concerto Classics “…the Emperor Concerto, with Japanese soloist Mami Shikimori. Those of us who were at the Sheldonian for Sir Andras Schiff’s interpretation on 16th June very likely had that night still fizzing in their memory lobes like a Guy Fawkes sparkler. Yet gratifyingly Ms Shikimori lost nothing in the comparison… Afterwards Ms Shikimori amid clamorous applause took her repeated bows in the long, deep Japanese fashion.” (Daily Info)
“Astonishing beauty of tone…With skilful pedalling, she brought out every note three-dimensionally, creating an acoustic space filled with glittering and transparent sound. It was as though seeing ripples of water coming out of the depth which increases in its beauty as it reaches the surface and reflects the light. …In the modern piece presented in the recital, I was particularly impressed with her vigorous spirit of inquiry in continuing to seek the possibility of the unknown such as new sounds on the piano” (The daily Yomiuri)
“The diminutive Ms. Shikimori is quite simply electrifying to watch and listen to,” “a dazzling revelation.” (Japan Tsunami Relief Concert in Scotland)
“Immense musical talent. She plays with totally convincing artistry” – Bernard Roberts
“Sheds a new light on the world of Khachaturian…A Natural and brilliant performance” (MDE Bravo Music Magazine, Japan)
“…with outstanding pianist Mami Shikimori who is also a noted soloist… sparkling fireworks from the pianist, at times inflaming the violin.” (Sarasate, Japan)
“It is impossible to fault this disc – it is superbly played throughout, and most excellent recorded. A truly important CD and addition to the recorded repertoire.” (Musical Opinion)
Oxford Proms: Mami Shikimori
Japanese pianist Mami Shikimori, who now lives in Abingdon, has attracted a considerable following, if the size of her audience at the Holywell Music Room is anything to go by. It was not hard to see why as she launched into her opening piece, Mozart’s Rondo in A minor, K511. She produces a very wide range of tone colour and dynamics, and has a strong sense of musical phrasing. In the case of the Rondo, the work’s sense of elegantly expressed grief was poignantly demonstrated: as the piece is only ten minutes long, some pianists might be tempted to toss it off, but not Shikimori. Ravel’s La Valse is also sometimes treated as a potboiler, but again Shikimori turned it into a major, multi-faceted experience.
The 21st Century was represented by Oxford-based composer Tim Perkins’s 7th Heaven. Constructed from combinations of septangular musical devices, this short work begins austerely with a simple melody that made me think of a clock chiming with an unusual sequence of notes. The music quickly becomes more unbuttoned, however, and Shikimori plainly relished it every step of the way – to the obvious delight of the composer, who was present.
In contrast, Shikimori imparted a dream-like atmosphere to the opening of Ondine, one of three pieces she played from Debussy’s Préludes, Book 2. The apparent simplicity of the following Canope demonstrated another of Shikimori’s attributes, her transparent sound, which allows you to follow all the interweaving strands of everything she plays.
But for me, the major event of the evening was the performance of Brahms’s Sonata No 3, Op 5. This big-scale, five-movement work elicited an appropriately big-scale performance, with its broad range of tone colour and emotion playing to Shikimori’s strengths. For instance, as she moved from the powerful first movement to the gentle opening of the second, the piano began to sing. It was a memorable moment in this altogether most satisfying recital. Giles Woodforde
Moffat News, Concert at the Old Well Theatre, Moffat
Mami Shikimori enthralled the large audience at the Old Well Theatre last Friday, delighting us as her virtuosity was, once more, totally subservient to music-making.
She began with Bach’s enchanting Prelude and Fugue in C#. It was an interesting choice for a programme featuring ground-breaking music, for this is the only prelude in the 2nd book of ‘the 48’ to retain the simple broken-chord bass that pervades his earlier set. Maybe the lively fughetta that heralded its close, and the innovative fugue were deciding factors. Maybe Mami simply saw a piece she loves as a gentle gateway to the music that followed.
Brahms was twenty when he wrote his F minor Sonata. A long, passionately emotional work in which heroic gestures and sheer energy can seem overwhelming, it lacked for neither tenderness nor delicacy. After the power and impetus of the first movement, the Andante had a lighter, improvisatory touch: beauty of tone, and subtle gradations from magical pianissimos to steadily increasing volume and tension, casting its spell. A rumbustious Scherzo led via the brief, melancholy Intermezzo to its rondo-like Finale. Strength and rhythm held sway, interrupted by two melodies that were later combined in a fugal momentum towards the work’s end. This sonata demands the listener’s ear, and Mami’s performance moulded the disparate elements of the music into a coherent whole, holding our attention to the end.
McGuire’s Harbour of Harmonies composed in 2000 opened the second half of the concert. Initially, the music conjured images of surging water gradually subsiding into stillness, but this was no chocolate box anchorage. Conflicting threads became unsettling and discord strengthened, not to fade until the closing moments when a calmer, more peaceful atmosphere emerged. As we showed our appreciation, Mami beckoned the composer from the audience to share the applause. It would be good to hear it again.
Written in the last years of Albíniz’s life, Iberia drew upon his knowledge of Spanish folk music, offering scope for performers to conjure in sound pictures of cultures in danger of losing their identity. Underpinned by firm rhythms, and endowed with a different palette of colours and tone, it separated the unease and realities at the heart of McGuire’s music from the fantastic, and at times frenetic, whirl of Ravel’s La Valse. We heard the languid Evocacíon and the lighter, dancing Trianai, both pieces evoking images of sun, movement and happiness.
La Valse, conceived as orchestral ballet music, was soon transcribed for two pianos and then solo piano. Mami captured the character of the music splendidly with lilting waltzes given a hint of underlying malevolence. Again, one was caught up in the intensity and dazzling power of the work; half aware of glissandos, the speed of finger-work and an occasional blur of hands, yet hypnotised by the dance.
It had been an inspiring, thoroughly enjoyable evening. World-class Japanese musicians in charity event, Findhorn
Two exceptional classical soloists joined forces to present a benefit concert at the Universal Hall Arts Centre Findhorn on Wed 21st September, raising hundreds of pounds for the disaster relief charity in Japan following the devastating tsunami that struck in March this year.
Mami Shikimori, piano, has played with Japan’s leading orchestra the Kyushu Symphony at many famous concert halls across the world. The diminutive Ms. Shikimori is quite simply electrifying to watch and listen to, the contrast between her immense modesty and grace on stage and the sinewy strength of her playing reveals itself in a sort of understated passion, a dazzling revelation that goes as fast as it came, leaving you doubting your own ears.
Masayuki Kino is the leading soloist in the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra , with many top prizes to his name. He plays a 1776 Lorenzo Storioni violin and the gleaming instrument is matched by his extraordinary lightness of touch and flourishing playing.
The pair had agreed to visit Findhorn on a detour on route to Lerwick in Shetland, as part of their European tour raising funds for disaster relief. These performers would be at home in the Royal Albert or Carnegie Hall. To be able to hear such a pair in the relative intimacy of the Universal Hall on an Autumn Wednesday is a rare privilege for local classical music lovers. Unfazed by the relatively small audience, these musicians put heart and soul into a wonderful programme of pieces, giving us all a night that we will be hard put to forget. The programme was a challenging listen, opening with a brooding piece by Armenian composure Khachaturian, followed by some more accessible Grieg; both pieces quite pianistic in performance. After the interval came four pieces chosen to showcase the violinist, with music by French composer Messiaen, the Spanish De Falla, Austrian Fritz Kreisler – himself a violinist, and closing with Polish music from Gounod’s Faust. These latter pieces were completely spellbinding and the lightness and dexterity of Kino’s playing leaving no doubt that he would give any Shetland fiddler a run for their money on the next stage of their tour. (Oxford Times)
La Valse virtuosity
Eccellente Marzirnino: Edmond Jones and Mami Shikimori, at Croft Hall, Hungerford, on Wednesday July 13 THE title, in case anyone is wondering, comes from a quote in Mozart’s opera, Don Giovanni (Pour me wine, excellent Marzemino). Advertised as ‘a dramatic journey through W A Mozart’s life with narrative, readings from the Mozart letters etc’, this programme contrasted the life with the music, with three sonatas for keyboard and violin, which the composer always referred to as ‘piano sonatas with violin accompaniment’. The parts were though, fatly-equal, with Edmund Jones indulging in some intricate interplay with pianist Mann Shikimori. Sonata No 2 in 13, K7 begins with scales and braeDC*Ordg in the first mmenient but Mozart soon introduces melodic fragments to spice up the music. However complex his compositions were the rnel5dic side was never ignored. ‘— The readings indicated that Mozart, always precocious, could turn out a sonata in less than the time it takes most of us to write a short letter or send an e-mail.The Adagio features an attractive melody and the final Menuetto which has dancing lines from the violin, finally independant of the piano for a while. Sonata No 18 in G, K.3011 293a features a long Allegro con spirit° which had vividly expressive piano from Shikimori and a pair of dances make up the skipping second and final movement. The third sonata, No 32 in 13 flat, K454 had further examples of close interplay between ‘e the two soloists, with a slow movement I which had ornamented melodies and a lively final Allegro played with spirit by the soloists. However, the highlight of the concert followed the interval, as Mami Shikimori played Ravel’s La Valse as her solo piece. She began with deep, rumbling chords in the bass and then flying treble notes at lightning tempo as she traced Greig’s transcription for piano.This was a true virtuoso performance and tended to make all that followed something of an anticlimax. The pair continued with Meditation by Jules Massenet and concluded with a very strongperformance of Greig’s convoluted but highly romantic Sonata Fbr Violin and Piano No 3 in C minor, op 45. The entire programme was performed ‘ with a mixture of grace and vigour by the two impressive soloists, Mami Shikimori and Edmund Jones.
(Newbury Weekly News)
Masayuki Kino and Mami Shikimori
The greatly distinguished Japanese violinist Masayuki Kino, partnered by Mami Shikimori presented a connoisseur’s recital at Wigmore Hall on June 25, including two works by Aram Khachaturian: his ‘Song-Poem’ and very early Violin Sonata – items which appear on the artists’ new CD of the composer’s complete music for violin and piano, reviewed in Musical Opinion last year.
For many years, the one Khachaturian Violin Sonata which was heard at all regularly was actually by Aram’s nephew Karen (1920-2011), and most people confused the younger man with his uncle, who was – and remains – by far the better-known composer. So it was with genuine interest that we heard the Aram Khachaturian Sonata (1932), composed whilst still a student of Myaskovsky in Moscow. It is a very strong and direct work, as with most of Khachaturian’s early pieces which clearly does not deserve the fate which has befallen it. Also on the programme was Khachaturian’s even earlier Song-Poem ( 1929), a genuine piece of folk-inspired music such as was to flower in his output in his great ballets. Another rarely-heard piece was the 1917 Sonata by Respighi, a fine work indeed, alongside the other main composition in the programme, Grieg’s C minor Sonata of 1886-7, a more
compact and more closely-argued piece, but what was truly remarkable was the quality of the interpretations of all the works in the programme. This was not only an unusual programme, in including rarely-heard works, but also a wide ranging one, and this distinguished artists, Masayuki Kino and Mami Shikimori and to be warmly applauded for presenting such an interesting programme so well. (Musical Opinion)