A Touch of Britain - Anna Hashimoto: CD

This review was published on: March 31st 2018

Opening this disc made me smile. Hashimoto clearly had an influence over the cheery cover design, which includes numerous stereotypical British images from a corgi to a cup of tea and even a Union Jack on the disc itself! Hashimoto has lived in the UK for her whole life, and in acknowledgement of both her British and Japanese heritage she chose to record an entirely British programme in Tokyo with Japanese pianist Rikuya Terashima. The label is Fontec, which works primarily with Japanese musicians.

Hashimoto’s own programme notes are warm and personal with an explanation of the choice of works. She first performed a movement from Hurlestone’s Four Characteristic Pieces as a 10-year-old alongside the pianist Christopher Ross, a particular influence at the time, while the Alwyn Sonata was a much more recent discovery.

The light-hearted presentation belies a sincere approach to the recording which is sleek and well presented. The music itself is seriously good. The Four Characteristic Pieces open the recording, filled with character and delivered with Hashimoto’s usual poise and confidence. The ‘Croon Song’ is particularly graceful; gentle and effortless. Interplay between clarinet and piano is delicate and expert.

Two works by Joseph Horovitz follow. The outer movements of the Sonatina are full of vitality, surrounding the beautiful slow movement. The Two Majorcan Pieces feature light and exploratory playing within ‘Paguera’, while ‘Valdemosa’ dances along with effective ‘tambourine’ trills.

The Sonata by Herbert Howells offers yet further contrast with its dark and brooding qualities, while the Three Intermezzi by Stanford are carefully worked through. Finally, William Alwyn’s Sonata is a single movement work, rhapsodic in nature with moments of technical brilliance and expressive gentle moments. Another convincing performance and one that will lead me to investigate the work further.

Hashimoto plays with maturity in the serious works and energy and joviality in the lighter pieces. All performances are delivered with energy and passion and it is refreshing to see some lesser known works within the set. Highly recommended.

Stephanie Reeve

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The Clarinet and Saxophone Society of Great Britain is a company limited by guarantee registered in England No. 3010228, whose registered office is at Flat 51, Parkview Apartments, 122 Chrisp Street, London, E14 6ET. Email: membership(@) Tel: 01642 769 558

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