Iffley Music Society

Maki Sekiya (piano)

Iffley Church Hall, Saturday March 21st 2015.

It was delightful to find a full house for the piano recital by Maki Sekiya in Iffley Church Hall on Saturday night.

Maki Sekiya

The well-planned programme was framed by two sets of variations: the relatively unknown but late Mozart Variations on a Minuet by Duport, and the completely contrasting Schumann early Etudes Symphoniques . On either side of the interval we heard Schubert’s first set of Impromputus, and Oliver Knussen’s Ophelia’s Last Dance.

Maki Sekiya’s crisp and well-articulated approach to the Mozart revealed her to be an assured and highly proficient pianist. Tackling the Schubert Impromptus was more of a challenge since we can all recall hearing the most famous pianists of our day reveal their insights into this sublime music. Sekiya’s vision was direct, and concentrated on the simplicity of the language. This was supported by a most engaging and communicative musicianship which drew the listener into her world. Her finger-work in the sparkling runs and fast passages showed her greatly to advantage particularly in the Eb Impromptu, whilst the pensive Gb major which followed revealed a sincere and fresh response to this much-loved music. The Knussen piece (completed only a few years ago) provided a strong contrast to the classical first half, but this young Japanese pianist was able to get into the music’s spirit and gave Ophelia’s Last Dance a well-characterised and beguiling performance.  Maybe her memory of attending school with the composer’s daughter gave her a special sympathy with the language, but she certainly contributed her own view into music which can be elusive.

Maki Sekiya’s slight frame and delicate appearance did not prepare us for her commanding and weighty mastery of the Schumann Etudes. She really showed her metal in this technically demanding and challenging music, whilst responding whole-heartedly and naturally to the inherent romanticism already apparent in this, one of Schumann’s early works for piano written when he was only 24.

Two encores ended the concert, a limpid "Für Elise" followed by Sergey Pavlenko's extraordinary "Musique à bis" laughingly (one suspects) described as "minimalist"; a frenzy of notes adding up to a kind of craziness that left the audience bewildered but certainly entertained!

It is wonderful that a local Music Society is able to support a pianist of such outstanding quality.

Sally Carewe