Mami Shikimori – Mozart – Brahms – Ravel – CR6002
£9.99 – £23.99
“Another outstandingly recorded CD from Claudio Records, containing 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”
Mozart’s Rondo in A minor K511 was composed in the spring of 1787 and it is one of his great mature works. The work is permeated by the feeling of sorrow, the mood quite similar to that of Pamina’s G minor Aria from the opera ‘The Magic Flute’, which woebegone Pamina sings about lost love. The form of Rondo in A minor is A-B-A-C-A-coda, two episodes in major keys appearing between the main sections. The opening theme goes thorough series of transformations during the course of the piece and it is at its most agonised and anguished when it appears for the final time and it leads to the haunting coda which refers back to one of the earlier episodes.
Brahms composed this enormous five-movement sonata when he was only 20 years old. The work was first published in 1854 and this remained his largest single piano work. The 1st movement Allegro maestoso is in concise sonata form and it opens with a heroic and defiant gesture which uses the entire range of the keyboard, and virtually the whole movement grows out of these opens bars. Brahms explained that the following verses are “perhaps necessary or pleasant for an appreciation of the Andante” of this sonata, and he asked that these first three lines of C.O. Sternau’s poem Junger Leibe (Young Love) to be printed above the 2nd movement Andante: Der Abend dämmert, das Mondlicht scheint Twilight is falling, moonlight shines, Da sind zwei Herzen in Liebe vereint there two hearts are united in love Und halten sich selig umfangen embraced in blissful rapture The 3rd movement Scherzo is robust, energetic and angular, in contrast to the Trio, which has a soulful, broad and richly harmonised chorale-like melody in warm D flat major. The forth movement, entitled “Rückblick” (Retrospect), is loosely reminiscent of the falling thirds in the opening of the Andante, but this time, it is gloomy and the love is now lost. The Finale is in free rondo form. The three main subjects are treated contrapuntally in the coda, bringing the work to a triumphant conclusion.
Ravel’s ‘La Valse’ was originally written for orchestra, and it was also transcribed for two pianos and for solo piano by the composer, who wrote the piece as a tribute to Johann Strauss and described it as ‘a kind of apotheosis of the Viennese waltz, intermingled with the impression of a fantastic and fatal whirling’. Some have suggested the influence of Edgar Allen Poe with his short story ‘The Masque of the Red Death’ with its sinister and grotesque ‘masked ball of the most unusual magnificence’. The solo piano version incorporates occasional small-note excerpts from the orchestra score and one of the challenges facing the pianist is to decide how much of these one should play.
Mami Shikimori had her first musical training in her native town Fukuoka, Japan and later studied piano at the Purcell School of Music in London with Jean Anderson and went on to the Royal College of Music to study with Bernard Roberts. She graduated with the highest honours as well as the Hopkinson Gold Medal and other major prizes for solo piano. She also won the Marjorie and Arnold Ziff Prize for Outstanding Diploma Recital for which she was awarded the highest maximum mark. She has also studied with John Perry, John Blakely and Christopher Elton amongst others. Mami has performed at numerous world-renowned concert venues including New York’s Carnegie Hall, Weill Recital Hall, London’s St. John’s, Smith Square, Queen Elizabeth Hall and Tokyo’s Suntory Hall. Mami has been a top prize winner at several international competitions including receiving the New York IBLA Grand Prize in 2003, Padova and Alice bel Colle International competitions. In 2002, Mami was voted by Manchester Midday Concert Society as one of the two most outstanding young pianists to play a solo recital at the city’s Bridgewater Hall. Mami Shikimori is much in demand as a solo recitalist, chamber music player and concerto soloist. In 2006, she made her world-wide concerto debut with Japan’s Kyushu Symphony Orchestra in Fukuoka and her later performance of the Grieg Piano Concerto at the prestigious Kyushu Summer Festival attracted much critical acclaim. Last season, she made her successful London concerto debut at St. John’s, Smith Square, performing Beethoven’s Emperor Piano Concerto. She has broadcast on Classical KUSC, America’s largest and most listened to public radio classical music station, recorded live from the Alfred Newman Hall in Los Angeles, and performed live television broadcasts on NHK, KBC and FBS in Japan. Alongside her solo work, Mami regularly performs with violinist Masayuki Kino.
Described by the BBC Music Magazine, “strong and sensitive” and “dazzling”, Japanese pianist Mami Shikimori has been exciting audiences since first appearing on stage in 1996. Her playing has been noted for the expressive power and poetic insight, combined with effortless technical ability and it has been described as “electrifying” and “a dazzling revelation” by critics. She has performed at numerous world-renowned concert venues including New York’s Carnegie Hall, Weill Recital Hall, London’s Wigmore Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Cadogan Hall, St. John’s, Smith Square, Bridgewater Hall and Tokyo’s Suntory Hall.
Her debut solo CD, comprising of Mozart Rondo in A minor K511, Brahms Sonata in F minor Op 5, and Ravel La Valse, released by Claudio Records label has received a five-star review in Musical Opinion which stated the CD was “deeply impressive” “brilliantly successful” and the US music magazine Fanfare commented “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”, while Recording Arts (Ongaku no tomo) of Japan praised her playing, saying “Shikimori’s every touch brings out beautiful nuances from the melodic lines.”
Mami Shikimori graduated from the Royal College of Music in London with the highest honour for the graduation recital, winning the Marjorie and Arnold Ziff Prize for Outstanding Diploma Recital as well as the Hopkinson Gold Medal and numerous other prizes for solo piano and the Principal’s Special Award. Thereafter, she won a full scholarship to attend Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California. Her teachers include Jean Anderson, Bernard Roberts and Christopher Elton. Mami Shikimori has received multiple awards including winning Ibla International Competition’s “Most Distinguished Musician” Prize with a special mention on her performance of Debussy’s music, as well as top prize at the Alice Bel Colle and other international competitions. Other awards include the Millicent Silver Prize, the Peter Walfisch Schubert Prize, the Emanuel Trophy and Mami was made an ‘Adopted Daughter of Pasay City’ an honorary citizenship awarded by the Mayor of that city, following a charity concert she gave at the Philam Life Theatre, Philippines,
Mami Shikimori is much in demand as a solo recitalist, chamber music player and concerto soloist and has performed in the UK, in Europe and USA (New York and Los Angeles) as well as frequently being invited to perform in Asian cities such as Bangkok, Manila, Tokyo and Fukuoka. She has broadcast on BBC Radio 3, Classic FM, as well as NHK, KBC and FBS in Japan, the Grand 101 in Canada, and on Classical KUSC, America’s largest and most listened to public radio classical music station. Alongside her solo work, Mami has collaborated with such distinguished musicians as the Wihan String Quartet, Coull Quartet, violinist Masayuki Kino, conductors Alexander Walker, Adrian Shepherd, Keith Marshall, John Traill, Yukio Kitahara and Ken-Ichiro Kobayashi. With violinist Masayuki Kino (Soloist/Concertmaster, Japan Philharmonic Orchestra), she performed a Wigmore Hall recital in 2013 and recorded an all-Khachaturian CD for NAR label and she made her solo appearance at the Wigmore Hall in 2014, performing Schubert in Bernard Roberts Memorial Concert.
Recent highlights include a solo recital at the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford, Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto with Japan’s foremost orchestra, the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Ken-Ichiro Kobayashi at the Acros Symphony Hall, Mozart Concerto K488 with the English Chamber Orchestra directed by Stephanie Gonley at London’s Cadogan Hall, a solo recital at the inaugural concert of Kyushu Community Hall in Japan, the Rachmaninov Second Piano Concerto with the Oxford Proms Orchestra in a sell-out concert at the Sheldonian Theatre, Franck and Faure Piano Quintets with Czech’s renowned Wihan String Quartet in Japan’s FFG Hall. Her third album “Tchaikovsky Piano Music” was released by Naxos and it is currently receiving enthusiastic attention internationally. The recording was chosen as “Disc of the month” in a major Japanese magazine “Ongaku-no-Tomo” as well as receiving critical acclaim in the UK, France, Spain and the USA and it is frequently being broadcast on major radio stations such as BBC Radio 3 and Classic FM. Her recording was recently featured in a Canadian radio programme “Women in music” on the Grand 101 and on Classic FM’s Full Works Concert, programme entitled “Rarely heard gems”.
Musical Opinion – Review (July-Sept 2014)
Another outstandingly recorded CD from Claudio Records, containing 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.