Though it is as yet impossible to know how she might be as a Bach/Beethoven/Brahms, a Chopin/Schubert/Schumann, or a Liszt/Debussy/Ravel player, one thing is certain: Ayako Uehara is a born Prokofiev player. On her EMI solo recital debut, Uehara assembled a superlative program moving from the balletic Ten Pieces from Romeo and Juliet through the dramatic Sonata No. 7 to the lyric Visions fugitives, and then performed the heck out of them. As one might expect in a Prokofiev player, Uehara has a spectacular technique with an incisive attack and a muscular feeling for rhythm. And as one might hope for in a Prokofiev interpreter, she also has a clear understanding of the composer's unique aesthetic balancing tenderness with ferocity, delicacy with virtuosity, and elegance with intensity. But Uehara goes above and beyond technique and understanding to expressing herself through the music. The way she bends a phrase in her yearning "Romeo Bids Farewell to Juliet" or arches a melody in her sonata's mournful Andante caloroso or swings the tempo in her bittersweet Comodo from Visions fugitives is at once faithful to the music and entirely characteristic of the pianist. Recorded in cool but immediate sound in EMI's Abbey Road Studio No. 1, Uehara's recital deserves to be heard by anyone who enjoys Prokofiev's piano music.
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AllMusic Review by James Leonard
|Romeo and Juliet, pieces (10) for piano, Op. 75|
|Piano Sonata No. 7 in B flat major ("War Sonata 2/Stalingrad"), Op. 83|
|Visions fugitives (20), for piano, Op. 22|