Henryk WIENIAWSKI (1835-1880)
Polonaise in D Major for Violin and Piano Op. 4 [5:12]
Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904)
Romantic Pieces for Violin and Piano, Op. 75, B 150 [17:07]
Giuseppe TARTINI (1692-1770)
Violin sonata in G minor, Devil’s Trill [14:03]
Christoph Willibald GLUCK (1714-1787)
Mélodie from Orfeo ed Euridice [3:37]
Ernest BLOCH (1880-1959)
Nigun [8:03]
Pablo de SARASATE (1844-1908)
Zigeunerweisen, Op. 20 [9:05]
Fumiaki Miura (violin)
Hibiki Tamura (piano)
rec. live, 30-31 May 2016, Kioi Hall, Tokyo

In 2015, the violinist Fumiaki Miura signed up with the Japanese record label Avex Classics. I had the pleasure of reviewing his impressive debut album featuring concertos by Tchaikovsky and Mendelssohn, awarding it ‘Recording of the Month’. His follow-up is a recital from Kioi Hall, Tokyo with pianist Hibiki Tamura, taped in May 2016. Although stated as live, I couldn’t detect any audience presence, and no applause is registered, yet the general ambience and acoustic is suggestive of a spacious venue. Having heard Miura in concertos and also having reviewed the disc of Prokofiev Sonatas he made for Sony Japan in 2010, I’m pleased to have the opportunity to hear his approach to lighter recital fare.

What better way to begin than with the Wieniawski Polonaise No. 1 in D major Op. 4, a technical tour de force in which Miura displays his remarkable violinistic prowess. Not for him empty flashy showmanship; everything is played with sobriety and good taste. I’m pleased they have reinstated the cut many omit in the piano part at 1:24. Not only is the performance stylish and elegant but it is dispatched with consummate polish. Intonation is flawless, especially negotiating the treacherous tenths. My only disappointment is that they didn’t include the Polonaise No. 2 in A Major, Op. 21, less taken up by fiddle players for some unknown reason. In the Four Romantic Pieces for Violin and Piano, Op. 75 by Dvořák the duo effectively enunciate the contrasting mood of each. The first and third are steeped in song-like lyricism and Miura ardently etches the melodic line with devotional intensity. In the second piece they underline the dramatic and stormy nature of the music. The final elegy is full of sadness and is deeply felt.

Miura’s richly burnished tone is ideally suited to the lyrical opening of Tartini’s Devil's Trill. In the middle movement the trills are cleanly articulated, whilst double-stops in the last movement cadenza are vibrant, indeed incandescent. The performance calls to mind the Henryk Szeryng/Charles Reiner RCA recording for its decorous elegance and refinement; it is every bit as compelling. The Gluck Mélodie is a gem, seductively phrased and expressively tender, with Tamura’s sensitively sculpted piano accompaniment thoughtfully judged. Bloch’s Nigun is powerfully intense and instinctively nuanced. Miura’s tonal opulence and varied palette are a perfect foil for a canvas such as this. Sarasate’s Zigeunerweisen makes a convincing end to the recital. Once again, virtuosity is the name of the game. Harmonics have diaphanous luminosity and, in the Allegro molto vivace section at the end, spiccato bowings are crisp and incisive.

This is a thoroughly enjoyable recital with some high-octane playing. Once again Fumiaki Miura steps up to the mark fusing commanding virtuosity with intelligent musicianship. Booklet notes are in Japanese only.

Stephen Greenbank