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Pioneers (Hiroko Ishimoto)

Hiroko Ishimoto (piano) (Grand Piano)

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

Piano Works by F Price, Pejacevic, Anna Bon, Chaminade, C Schumann, Beach, E Kodály, L Boulanger and Chiquinha Gonzaga, et al
Hiroko Ishimoto (piano)
Grand Piano GP844   74:37 mins


A compilation of music by women ‘pioneers’ shouldn’t be necessary – yet in this wide-ranging and thought-provoking compilation sampling music from the 18th century to the present day, only one work (the Boulanger) has much likelihood of being familiar. Hiroko Ishimoto, a Japanese pianist living in Budapest, is a devoted champion of this repertoire and has assembled an imaginative selection.

The rationale for her choices and their ordering on the disc is not always clear. There’s a slight emphasis on quantity of names, represented in short works, rather than a focus on the meatier possibilities: the result is a predominance of flowers, waltzes, musical boxes and so forth, while some composers, such as the renowned Tatiana Nikolayeva, could perhaps have been better represented by more substantial compositions. Some pieces, such as a waltz by Emma Kodály (wife of Zoltan), are somewhat overshadowed by several 20th-century stand-out works, notably a prelude by the astonishing Vitezlava Kapralova, star pupil of Martinů (she died aged 25 in 1940), and one movement of a sonata by Florence Price that leaves one hungry for more. The most recent piece is by the Japanese composer Miyake Haruna – a striking, deconstructed tango.

Ishimoto has a forthright tone and her playing is occasionally rather relentless, but she navigates the varied repertoire with great assurance. The recorded sound is a touch close and loud.


Jessica Duchen