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Akiko Yamada

by Mariko Kato

Considered one of the most exciting young violinists, Akiko Yamada is renowned for the breadth of her concert repertoire. For a one-off recital at Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall, Yamada narrows her focus to the works of J.S. Bach, Schubert, Debussy and Cesar Franck, accompanied by celebrated Ukrainian pianist Oleg Maisenberg.

Yamada is a talented violinist whose youth compromises neither her stunning technique nor her musical sensitivity. Born in Tokyo in 1986, she entered the Conservatoire National Superieur de Paris in 2000 at 13. Since then, she has won prizes at international competitions, and in 2002 became the youngest ever winner of the first Grand Prix at the Concours International Long-Thibaud, one of the world’s most prestigious classical competitions.

The French classical-music magazine La Lettre du Musicien likened her to violin genius Fritz Kreisler for her “warm and moving tone. . . . the economy and control of her bow allowing all subtleties.” The program for this recital is ideal for drawing out such maturity and flexibility. Schubert’s “Sonatina for Violin and Piano No.3 in G minor” is an exquisite tapestry of textures between the two instruments that demands perfect ensemble. It will be followed by an unaccompanied playing of Bach, then Franck’s “Violin Sonata in A Major.” The work that requires the most versatility of character and mood is Debussy’s “Violin Sonata.” It is a fiery mixture of humor and melancholy, brushed with the ambiguity that is characteristic of the French composer. Written just before his death, it represents Debussy at his most artistically dexterous, and Yamada’s thoughtful rendering will be a treat to hear.