Fumi Otsuki & Sarah Kershaw at “Lunchtime Live!”

Fumi Otsuki & Sarah Kershaw, Portsmouth Cathedral, May 25

Last year in Lunchtime Live! Sarah Kershaw played Fumi Otsuki’s Piano Sonatina no. 1 and I was at least half expecting no. 2 today but things move quicker than that. It was no. 3 we got, its passages of dark disturbance interspersed with lyricism until in some extreme version of counterpoint, they were brought together but if anything in a sort of coda to the finish it was the disturbed mood that predominated rather than any calm resolution.

It had up to then been more the Sarah Kershaw show as she opened Mozart’s Violin Concerto no.3 K.216 with some impish, feelgood piano introduction before Fumi’s delayed entrance in the Allegro. Carefree and presumably as enjoyable to play as to listen to, her biggest moments were still ahead of her. The Adagio is lilting piano lullaby with the violin serene above it and exploring the acoustic of the choir area of the cathedral where we were today by way of a change. There is a third movement, a Rondeau, to K.216 and for the sake of 6.38 and completeness maybe we could have had that as well in what was from then on a very subtly linked programme.

Fauré’s smooth Après un rêve led into Rautavaara’s Notturno which continued the mini Lunchtime Live! Rautavaara revival. It’s a lonely night without being too dark but it has a recurring piano bass note that very loosely anticipated a similar one in the final piece.

Moving across the Baltic Sea from Finland to Estonia, the week became a hall of mirrors with a very welcome second chance to hear Arvo Pärt’s Spiegel im Spiegel in the flesh after Chichester on Tuesday where it was played on cello and piano. So here was a chance to play Building a Library and compare two performances.

It doesn’t seem to me as if the piano is an accompanist. The two parts are symbiotic and one is as much taken up with the piano motif and the notes picked out above and below it as with the string part’s ever extending lines. Soohong Park’s piano on Tuesday expressed fragility where Sarah’s intense, concentrated performance today was more luminous. Fumi brought more vibrato to the string part and so, in a way, that delicacy was in the other place. At a time when everything starts reflecting back on itself, what one would really like next would be for the two pairings, William Clark-Maxwell & Soohong Park and Fumi Otsuki & Sarah Kershaw, to exchange partners and see what happens then.

David Green

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