Powerful pianist’s performance proves popular

Windmill Studio Concert review by Brian Moore

How does a pianist cope after a five-hour railway journey followed by a quick dash to the performance venue half an hour after the start time, learning to explore the instrument before launching into the programme? In the case of Japanese pianist Haruko Seki at Swineshead Village Hall – brilliantly!

She began with two contrasting works by Chopin, the Nocturne (Op Posth) and the powerful Scherzo (Op 31), the delicacy of the former matched by the powerful agility of the latter.

Liszt was represented by one of his towering masterpieces – Vallee d’Obermann from Annees de Pelerinage – a work which made great demands on both the performer and instrument.

Respite came in the shape of Debussy’s La fille aux cheveux de lin with its gracious filigree of sound, before rushing headlong into the composer’s L’isle Joyeuse with its overtones of haughty eccentricity.

Two works by English composers, Vaughan Williams (Greensleeves Fantasia) and Eric Coates (Knightsbridge March), proved curious choices until the soloist explained she was exporting British music to Japan – a laudable gesture. The centrepiece of the second part of her recital was an astounding performance of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.

Her encores – one of Schumann’s Scenes of Childhood, followed by a rumbustious account of Joplin’s Maple leaf Rag brought this unforgettable – yes, brilliant recital to a close.