Takemitsu: Rain Tree Sketch II
Adès: 3 Mazurkas
Bach: Goldberg Variations
There are many brilliant pianists around, but few are able to fuse the sensibilities of a musician raised in the Far East who trained in the West. Reiko Fujisawa took up the piano at the age of three. It was an unusual direction for the traditional family milieu in which she grew up in the most southerly of Japan’s four main islands: her parents played traditional Japanese instruments but were keen for Reiko to expand her musical horizons.
Reiko went on to study at the Musashino University of Music in Tokyo but was eager to further her knowledge abroad. She spent time in San Francisco and yet, with the high density of Japanese in the city, this too felt quite close to home. She then chose to follow the example of one of her Japanese piano teachers and travel to the UK. There she trained at Trinity College and with Martino Tirimo, Benjamin Kaplan and Yonty Solomon. She has been in London ever since.
Reiko has gone on to establish herself as an exciting and formidable virtuoso performer on the concert platform. She made her debut at the Southbank Centre in 1999, at the Wigmore Hall in 2003 and performed with the Soloists of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in the inaugural season at Cadogan Hall in London in 2006. She has since made appearances at prestigious venues all over the UK and overseas. Her UK festival performances include Brighton, Belfast and Warwick & Leamington.
So what actually happens when Reiko sits at a keyboard and performs? The dominant flavour Reiko looks for in her recitals is personal warmth. Her constant goal is to present to the audience a dialogue between pianist and composer. She feels especially at home among the deep emotional textures of Beethoven, the joyful spirit of Schubert’s impromptus and – her most recent discovery – in conversation with Bach.
What audiences experience, both in the studio and on stage, is a musician with a European sensibility who is still in touch with her musical roots in Japan. Her recitals have often engaged with works by contemporary Japanese composers such as Yoichi Togawa. Reiko was a featured artist at the Japan 2001 festival with the specially formed Ensemble Tōzai, which combines western and classical Japanese musicians. Their performances have been broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and Channel 4. But her ensemble work doesn’t stop there. She also plays with the Wind Principals of the London Orchestras and in a Piano Trio with members of the Allegri Quartet.