Isata Kanneh-Mason: Childhood Tales. © 2023 Universal Music Operations Ltd

CD Spotlight

Wonderful and Charming

GERALD FENECH listens to Isata Kanneh-Mason

'... the soloist's supreme mastery of each piece is unimpeachable throughout.'


To say that pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason is in great demand is an understatement. Born in May 1996 her talents came to the fore very early on, so it is no wonder that despite her young age she is already an international star in constant demand. She offers eclectic and interesting repertoire with her recital programmes encompassing music from Haydn and Mozart via Fanny Mendelssohn and Clara Schumann, Chopin and Brahms to Gershwin and beyond. In concerto, she is equally at home in Felix Mendelssohn and Clara Schumann, whose piano concerto features on Isata's chart-topping debut recording, as in Prokofiev and Dohnányi.

In 2022/23 Isata steps into her role as Artist in Residence with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, performing three concerti across the season at London's Cadogan Hall. She will also be returning to Dortmund's Konzerthaus as one of their 'Junge Wilde' artists and multiple visits to the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic are also on the cards. Other highlights of the season include recital performances at the Barbican, Queen Elizabeth and Wigmore Halls in London, the Berlin Philharmonie, Dublin National Concert Hall and Perth Concert Hall. The Prinzregenten-theater in Munich and the Sala São Paolo in Brazil will also host this budding star of the keyboard. As concerto soloist, Isata appears with the Orchestra of Opera North, New World Symphony Miami, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Duisburg Philharmonic, Barcelona Symphony Orchestra, Geneva Chamber Orchestra, Detroit Symphony and the Norwegian Opera Orchestra. Recently she made her long-awaited debut with the LA Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl.

This is a tornado of activities that makes the mind boggle, but her explosive enthusiasm for the art permits her to perform consistently at the highest level. This is what Zachary Woolfe in The New York Times had to say after one of her concerts:

She played beautifully, her touch patrician in a Beethoven Sonata, dreamy in one by Shostakovich, suave in one by Frank Bridge and alert without being anxious in one by Britten. Calmly commanding throughout, she was also unfailingly subtle.

Truly she is a pianist for all seasons. Apart from all this activity, Isata has also been busy in the studio.

Listen — Debussy: Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum (Children's Corner)
(4854180 track 28, 0:00-0:43) ℗ 2023 Universal Music Operations Ltd :

This latest issue has all the hallmarks that make this music exquisitely gentle, full of joy and deeply affective, and the soloist's supreme mastery of each piece is unimpeachable throughout.

Listen — Robert Schumann: Der Dichter spricht (Kinderszenen)
(4854180 track 46, 0:00-0:45) ℗ 2023 Universal Music Operations Ltd :

If you are entering the world of Claude Debussy's Children's Corner, Ernő Dohnányi's Variations on a Nursery Song, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Ah, vous dirai-je, maman Variations and Robert Schumann's Kinderszenen, then prepare yourself for a captivating experience that comes not that often.

Listen — Dohnányi: Finale fugato (Variations on a Nursery Song)
(4854180 track 27, 2:21-3:19) ℗ 2023 Universal Music Operations Ltd :

An extremely wonderful and charming collection evoking the magical childhood years that never seem to escape one's memory. Sound and annotations are first rate.

Copyright © 13 May 2023 Gerald Fenech,
Gzira, Malta



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