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David Denton
David's Review Corner, December 2015

As each of the multiplicity of piano competitions taking place each year look for a place on the international scene, the Spanish ‘Jaen Prize’ is most highly valued. In 2014, the award was given to the twenty-six year old Japanese-born Akihiro Sakiya, this disc demonstrating an all-embracing technique combing with a musicality that is all too rare nowadays. Maybe he tries a little too hard to impress at the climax of the second movement of the Brahms Third Piano Sonata, having given a perfectly judged and ideally paced opening Allegro maestoso. He continues with a vivacious account of the scherzo, with fingers trickling around the running passages, the Intermezzo forming a bridge to a rather jolly finale. If Sakiya here provides happiness, it is in the refined delicacy of Debussy’s Estampes that we hear him at his most persuasive, its shimmering colours seemingly second nature to him, and no doubt arise from his years as a pupil of the distinguished French pianist, Jacques Rouvier. Though Juan Manuel Ruiz’s Spanish orientated Almenara was the very interesting ‘test piece’ in the 2013 Jaen Competition, I cannot understand how Alejandro Roman’s Gaiena told the jury anything about the 2014 competitors. Granados’s pleasing romp, El pelele, comes as a welcome oasis between the two. There is still work for Sakiya to do in shaping phrases, particularly so by inserting momentary gaps that capture listener attention, but all the ingredients are here for a big career. Recorded at a concert last June, the sound is up-close and solid in texture. © 2015 David’s Review Corner

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