The arts desk.com
Ayako Fujiki: brightwater (Temps Record)
Japanese pianist Ayako Fujiki was a pupil of Alicia de Larrocha. She’s previously recorded music by Schubertand Granados, but this disc’s 13 tracks were self-penned. Flamboyant flurries betray Fujiki’s Spanish influences, and there’s a hint of French Impressionism. The most appealing moments come early on; the title track contains a charming slice of salon music, bookended by a very Debussyian sequence of chords. And “Melancholic Bar” suggests more than a passing acquaintance with the music of Satie, the left hand’s rocking chords underpinning a sequence of tunes which the Parisian eccentric would have appreciated. It sounds so effortless that you’re left wanting more, though nothing else is quite so memorable; several short numbers sound more like improvised sketches than fully-realised pieces.
“Weathered Pebble” has fun with a famous, treacherous chunk of Chopin, and “Moonlight Sketch”’s overdubbing is well-achieved. Technically, the playing is impressive, though the virtuosity becomes a little wearing as the disc proceeds. Which is mostly the fault of a very close and constricted recording balance – this piano certainly doesn’t sound like a Steinway. And the packaging is disappointing: we get a few attractive photos but zilch about the pianist or her music. Fujiki deserves better.