The concert program surprised the audience with the variety of style priorities. Music fans in one concert night got a chance to listen to music of different styles – sonatas by Alessandro Scarlatti (famous Italian composer of the Baroque period), virtuoso etudes by romantic composers Frederic Chopin and Franz Liszt, preludes by “late” romantic Sergei Rachmaninoff, popular play by Maurice Ravel Pavane for a Dead Princess (example of impressionist piano composition), and, finally, unknown to the Ukrainian audience, play by Japanese author Requiem…
Name of our guest – a kind of “blend” of Swedish, Japanese and German (or English) roots, immediately aroused the desire to get better acquainted with the creative career. Fuzjko Hemming was born in Berlin to the family of Japanese pianist Toako Otsuki and architect of Russian-Swedish origin Georgy Hemming. However, Japan played a crucial role in her career development. The Hemming family moved there when Fuzjko turned five. Her mother was the first teacher for the future musician. And at the age of 10 life brought Fuzjko a meeting with a key figure in her biography, who played a symbolic role in her future international career (at that time she started to have regular piano classes with an outstanding at the time Russian-German pianist and teacher Leonid Kreuzer). Kreuzer at his time received great piano training from the famous Russian music teachers – Anna Yesipova and Alexander Glazunov. Therefore, Fuzjko Hemming could be considered, in a way, their music goddaughter and the carrier of the traditions of one of the most famous Russian piano schools on international arena. Her swift start at the age of 17 coincided with a concert debut and subsequent multiple victories in major competitions. She graduated from Tokyo University of Arts.
In 1999 solo concert and a documentary about Fuzjko Hemming was broadcast on Japanese television and had tremendous success in multimillion audience after which she became a real star and simply a national hero. More than two million copies of her debut album La campanella were sold. Fuzjko Hemming won the prestigious Japanese award Gold Disc Award in the category “Classical Album of the Year.”
Soon after that she began an active cooperation with Japan’s Philharmonic Orchestra and other groups. At that time, an outstanding French pianist, one of the most persuasive interpreters of the Chopin and Schumann’s music – Samson Francois Pascal, the famous student of Marguerite Long, who enthusiastically responded to the exceptional musical performance of Chopin and Liszt’s compositions by Hemming, heard her playing.
At the age of 28 Hemming joined the Berlin Institute of Music. Then she moved to Vienna, where she perfected her performance skills under the guidance of the famous Austrian pianist Paul Badura-Skoda. Her performance always received high reviews from the famous musical masters. Active support of the young talented pianist by Leonard Bernstein (who, by the way, was born in the suburb of Rivne), composer and conductor Bruno Maderna, British-American pianist Shura Cherkassky (incidentally, a native of Odessa and a student of the famous Josef Hofmann), Nikita Magaloff – renowned Swiss pianist of Georgian-Russian origin did its job – Hemming gave a number of high-profile concerts.
In 1999 solo concert and a documentary about Fuzjko Hemming was broadcast on Japanese television and had tremendous success in multimillion audience after which she became a real star and simply a national hero. More than two million copies of her debut album La campanella were sold. Fuzjko Hemming won the prestigious Japanese award Gold Disc Award in the category “Classical Album of the Year.” The pianist received this award four times and set a record that hasn’t been beaten by any other musician who performs classical music.
Such groups as the Symphony Orchestra of the Moscow Philharmonic Society, Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra, the London Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and others consider it an honor to play in an ensemble with the Japanese celebrity. Even though the pianist practically lost her hearing at the age of 40 she still gathers full concert halls all over the globe!
The energy of this unique woman, who has more than 60 years of experience of performing music, is amazing: every year she gives over 40 concerts in different countries. The pianist also generously gives the fee earnings from her concerts to charity. Thus, when Hemming visited Sofia she gave the entire fee from her concert to the Sofia Zoo. She loves animals and owns over 40 cats. In Germany there is a center for animal care called after her…
Ukrainian music lovers and numerous Japanese audience looked forward to the concert of Ingrid Fuzjki Hemming held at the National Philharmonic Society of Ukraine. A festive atmosphere prevailed in the lobby already before the concert.
The very appearance of a fragile, small in stature woman dressed in quasi-Japanese costume, consisting of multi-colored, multi-layered silk tunics, has attracted interest of the audience. She immediately put her hand on the piano keyboard and the concert hall was filled with quivering trills and delicate grace-notes of the sonatas by Scarlatti that sounded remarkably natural and transparent with a fine understanding of the music style. When the first passages of Chopin’s Nocturne were heard it became clear that this element of musical romanticism is the real strong point of the Japanese pianist. Perhaps, this music was played exactly in this way in Parisian salons during the composer’s life and, probably, this nocturne sounded exactly like that when performed by Frederic Chopin – this unsurpassed poet of the piano, himself. Nocturne was perceived as a lyrical confession, as an intimate declaration of love, piano sound was rich, deep, and passionate, and it forced the audience to literally catch their breath. Effect of the rhythmically delayed party of the left hand brought to the imagination of people in the audience the traditions of performing romantic music that prevailed in piano music before the mid 1960s, when emotions had not yet given way to the piano technique, which in present time often interferes with true, sincere feelings put in music text by a composer.
The famous Ballade in G Minor by Chopin with its contrasting, dramatic, lyrical, and intimate images was performed in a bright and grand manner. And it made the words of Anton Rubinstein, uttered about the famous Polish composer, come into one’s mind: “Chopin is a bard, rhapsodist, spirit and soul.” That’s how the image of Chopin appeared before the audience that night created by the talent of Fuzjko Hemming. In her vision of Chopin’s music, Hemming conveyed to the audience the rare fusion of great philosophy of mind with charming beauty and nobleness, true aristocracy of images and flawless perfection of the form of his compositions. The full range of complex emotional feelings of the composer – from lyrical ingeniousness, youthful carefree, dreamy sentimentalism to dramatic, tragic notes and emotional resistance, was reflected in the performance of Chopin’s five etudes by the great pianist.
The two most famous preludes by Rachmaninoff, which opened the second part of the concert, definitely proved “genetic” proximity of poetic images of this music to the soloist’s perception. Sentimentally restrained music of Ravel’s Pavane as well as the small composition Requiem became a kind of emotional break, relaxing before three tense final virtuoso etudes by Liszt – samples of “high-class” performance in piano repertoire of concert pianists. And here the pianist, in fact, played as a true piano “tamer.” Chords cascades, virtuoso brilliant passages, drops of contrast piano texture, terrific leaps in different registers – all possible and impossible means of piano virtuoso style of Franz Liszt, all of this quietly and without much fuss complied with the pianist, who prevailed on the keyboard with male power.
The audience was especially captivated by Hemming’s performance of the famous etude Campanella which became a kind of a calling card in pianist’s career. A gentle murmur of the piano in the high register, slow overflows of passages, slight pauses between phrases, as if filled with clear morning air – it all created especially nostalgic mood of sorrow for the past and was perceived as if through a veil of light haze, some kind of sound sfumato. It seemed that the concert program came to an end, but the standing ovation and people shouting “Bravo!” couldn’t let the pianist leave the stage without one last composition. Her “encore” was not some kind of piano miniature but a part of Beethoven’s Sonata No. 17. That’s right, Allegretto of the famous sonata that has an informal name Tempest or Shakespeare sonata became, in fact, a coded message to the music professionals in the audience, well aware of the history of the writing of this music piece by Beethoven. This opus, considered to be a sort of psychological portrait of the composer, was created in the most dramatic period of his life, when he was faced with a real threat of total loss of hearing. A personal drama also added to the story. The music of the sonata, full of passionate rises of feelings, high emotional tension and romantic aspirations, is perceived as a sincere lyrical and dramatic confession of the artist. Emotional and figurative “code” of this composition created by Beethoven is obviously very close to Fuzjki Hemming, who experienced a similar dramatic situation in her life and came from it with dignity as a winner.