"...On the other hand, a separate essay would be Mayumi SAKAMOTO in honor of her precious talent. Rarely does one hear such a poetic piano, piano-pianissimo (the B-major part of Fantasia in F minor, lyrical episodes of Scherzo in B flat minor, the central fragment of the Octave Etude, along with the true fury of "the thrashing" octaves of the same Etude). I'm adding her name to my collection of artists of the Silk Road."
Posted by Jan Popis
from Warsaw Voice, Poland
"..I was struck by her face, a tableau of serenity even when playing the most tumultuous passages. I've got nothing against pianists who wear the music's emotions on their faces while they play, but clearly the "channel everything into the music" approach is working for her.
She played an extremely well-chosen program, starting with Bach's Toccata in E minor. She played sharp, purposeful Bach, brimming with confidence that she knew exactly what she was doing, a rare quality in young pianists whatever music they're playing. She then segued effortlessly into Mendelssohn's Variations serieuses, a piece that used counterpoint in much the same way as Bach's, but for more emotional ends. Her convincing performance made you wonder why Mendelssohn is regarded as a distant third to Chopin and Liszt among his contemporaries.
With her plangent, warm, gorgeous sound, she'd seem a natural for the Russian repertoire. Her concluding piece was Rachmaninov's Moments musicaux, and it was the best Rachmaninov playing we've heard so far. The six selections gave her a chance to showcase her formidable technique, and she invested them with galvanizing emotional power. If there's a weakness in her game, I haven't found it yet."
Posted by Kristian
from Fort Worth Weekly, USA
"..Her program of Bach, Mendelssohn and Rachmaninoff was well-planned and well-played, taking listeners from the high Baroque to the high-water mark of Romantic pianism.She began with Bach's Toccata in E minor, a somber work given joyous life by Sakamoto. After dramatic declarations in the introduction, the music sped off into invention. Sinewy lines danced and darted - met, intertwined and parted. Sakamoto balanced the competing melodies into music of depth and cohesion. Mendelssohn's utilized one of Bach's techniques - a recurring melody underlying swirling and varying accompaniment - in his Variations serieuses, but the music quickly grew bolder and broader in style. Sakamoto created crystal waves of sound with her passion but precise playing. Rachmaninoff's six grand Moments musicauxare treacherously difficult and represent the highest order of pianism. Sakamoto was well up for the challenge. Best were the quieter moments, when she created intoxicating musical perfumes, ripples of exotic hues that hinted at the East - mysterious, magical, a dream. A minor-key reverie grew into an impassioned lament; the piano's contralto register quivered with deep color and disquiet. Churning waves of sound created a tumultuous outpouring; Sakamoto's stamina and hand-strength reined in the virtuoso show pieces to bring the Cliburn's preliminaries to a rousing conclusion."
Posted by Chris Shull
from Star Telegram, USA
"Sakamoto hugely impressed me. Her Bach struck me as a setup to the Mendelssohn...: bigger and more ambitious than most, but incisively played. The Variations Sérieuses were flat-out great, and raised again the question of why there’s not more Mendelssohn on these programs... Sakamoto’s overall conception of the piece was compelling, her transitions deft, her contrasts illuminating, and her tone gorgeous and warm. The same goes for the Rachmaninoff, which was rich and fluid,..."
Posted by Mike Winter
"Mayumi Sakamoto, who has won several awards before - including the Grieg International Piano Copmpetition in 2004. Sakomoto played the Beethoven, piano concerto number three, with a powerful insight and technique that impressed the audience."
Posted by Silje Solstad
from Nordlys, Norway
"Even in the midst of all that power she displayed, she maintained that deep rich tone and shimmering contrasts of color. At various moments [no pun intended] of the Rachmanioff, I found myself near tears. I can’t properly or fully put into words why, but she swept me away with her playing.. And I WAS in tears throughout Sakamoto’s Mendelssohn and Rachmaninov. Oh, yes: she can make music flow as few can, but she has a very articulate technique, unlike any I’ve heard in some time. She can make “music between the notes"
from Van Cliburn official blog, USA