Classical Music Guide - Monday, July 22, 2019 - Written by Donald Isler

Mao Fujita

Mao Fujita - IKIF
21st International Keyboard Institute and Festival
Lang Recital Hall at Hunter College

July 19th, 2019

Mozart: Sonata in C Major, K. 330
Liszt: Transcendental Etude No. 10 in F Minor, S, 139/10
Rachmaninoff: Etude-tableau in E-Flat Minor, Op. 30, No. 5
Tchaikovsky: Dumka in C Minor, Op. 59
Chopin: Four Scherzi

Mao Fujita is a 21 year old Japanese pianist who recently won the Silver Medal at the Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition. He's terrific!

Arthur Rubinstein used to speak of the connection he felt with his audience as he played. I was reminded of this because Fujita's communication, through his playing, is so direct and natural.

The first movement of the Mozart Sonata, which began the program was on the fast side, fleet, but with subtle shadings, great articulation, and warmth. The second movement was straight-forward but finely nuanced. The F Minor section had a hushed quality. The finale was sprightly, vigorous, and light-hearted.

In the Liszt Etude he lingered over the melody, had wonderful pacing, especially in the slow expressive section, and a sizzling, fast conclusion.

The Rachmaninoff Etude-tableau featured smoldering tension, dramatic adjustments in volume, a slow, strong buildup to the climax, and a beautiful soft, epilogue.

In the Tchaikovsky Dumka he played the C Minor section softly and wistfully, while the energetic E-Flat Major section had high spirits and virtuosity.

The second half of the program consisted of the four Scherzi of Chopin. Sometimes people play them one right after the other without pause, but this would not have been possible as Mr. Fujita received enthusiastic applause after each one!

The First Scherzo had dash and verve, but he played the slow parts longingly, and he figured out very effectively just how much slower this should be than the fast parts, because everything seemed to work organically. The end was hysterically, and very excitingly fast.

The Second Scherzo featured nice flexibility in the pacing and some blistering finger work in the middle section.

In the Third Scherzo he dispatched the octaves quickly, and in the meno mosso section gave the chorale-like chords, which are followed by the equally long quasi-arpeggiation an interesting question and answer quality.

The Fourth Scherzo was playful, with wonderful splashes of sound, a soulfully played melody in the C-Sharp Minor section, and a powerful end.

Mr. Fujita played one encore, which was unfamiliar to me. It was a lovely, sentimental piece which was operatic in nature and later featured exquisite inner voices. After the concert I consulted with my always reliable RIA (Repertoire Identification Authority, also known as Joe Patrych) and was informed that it was the Meditation, Op. 72, No. 5 by Tchaikovsky.


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