Isata Kanneh-Mason – Romance – The Piano Music of Clara Schumann Review
By Illiam Sebitz
Isata Kanneh-Mason was a finalist in the The BBC Young Musician 2014, winning The Walter Todds Bursary for the most promising musician before the Grand Final. She has won The Royal Academy Iris Dyer Piano Prize four times and won the Mrs Claude Beddington Prize 2016 for outstanding recital results at The Royal Academy. Additionally, she the winner of The Royal Academy Christian Carpenter Recital Prize 2018, The Howard Craxton Chamber Music Prize 2018 and the Wilfred Parry (Brahms) Prize 2018 at The Royal Academy. Even more coveted, Kanneh-Mason held the prestigious Elton John Scholarship for her Undergraduate studies at The Royal Academy, performing with Sir Elton John in Los Angeles in 2013. Kanneh-Mason also received the Elsa and Leonard Cross Scholarship at The Royal Academy of Music, Junior Department, studying piano with Patsy Toh. Isata now 23, hails from a family of Britain’s most talented family – they are of Sierra Leonean-Caribbean origin. All seven of the children are immensely talented, with Isata being the eldest. Her latest album is entitled Romance – The Piano Music of Clara Schumann and its beauty is scintillating.
“Clara Schumann: Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 7 – 1. Allegro maestoso” opens the album and demonstrated Kanneh-Mason’s lyrical and authoritative playing. It is a good decision to introduce the album with a show piece from the late 19th century. Kanneh-Mason is supported by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Holly Mathieson. The orchestra sounds balanced and the playing is superb. Kanneh-Mason performance is resounding in its performance and her understanding of the composition and the period’s history. The musical performance has energy and Kanneh-Mason shows impressive pianistic abilities.
“Clara Schumann: Scherzo No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 14” gives Kanneh-Mason the voice to mine and explore Schumann’s virtuositic writing, which can be both astonishing and lyrical. Kanneh-Mason’s pianistic skills allow her to shape each phrase with various intensity of touch and colors. The result is a wonderful solo piano performance. Kanneh-Mason also demonstrates her sensitive accompanying skills with Schumann’s Violin Sonata (Op. 22), which features Kanneh-Mason and violinist Elena Urioste. Kanneh-Mason is a consummate player in both settings.
Kanneh-Mason delivers an impressive sampling of Schumann’s concertante, chamber and solo compositions. The Violin Sonata, Op. 22 is the highlight of the program with excellent playing by Kanneh-Mason and Urioste. Kanneh-Mason has impeccable taste and shading within her playing and this program is a light and enjoyable demonstration of her skills. A promising album is just the beginning of more to come. One can only image the abilities displayed with some of the literature of the well-known piano repertoire pieces. However, Kanneh-Mason is certainly one to watch and Romance – The Piano Music of Clara Schumann has ample substance to entertain until we here more from this gifted pianist.
Release Date: July 5, 2019
Label: Decca Music Group Ltd.