Mitsuko Uchida... Like a Blaze... of Lightning...

Mitsuko Uchida...

Flashed...

Onto the darkened stage...

Like a blaze of...

Lightening.

Wearing a soft white blouse with black trousers...

She sat at the black grand piano...

"Dans le théâtre"...

One could hear... a pin drop.

The concert... commenced.

Mitsuko Uchida...

Born in the seaside town of Atami... near the capital... Tokyo... she moved to Europe with her family aged twelve, when her father was appointed Japan's Ambassador to Austria.

She studied music at the Vienna Academy of Music and performed her first recital aged fourteen... at the famous "Musikverein"...home to the Vienna Philharmonic orchestra, considered one of the finest concert halls in the world.

Uchida... remained in Vienna to continue her studies... after her parents returned to Japan a few years later....

"I feel very much a European"... she confided.

She studied with such illustrious teachers as Richard Hauser, and later Wilhelm Kempff... one of the great pianists of the 20th century... Stefan Askenase, and Maria Curcio... the great and influential teacher.

Uchida... won first prize in the Beethoven Competition in Vienna aged twenty... second prize in the International Chopin Piano Competition a year later.  She also won second prize in the Leeds Piano Competition, five years on...

Her international breakthrough materialised in London...

When in 1982 she played the complete Mozart piano sonatas at Wigmore Hall - a resounding success - which led to a move to London... and a widely acclaimed international career...

Becoming a British citizen in 2001... as well as being appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2009.

She commented... in her upper crust English accent...

"In England, in spite of the class system, society is more open...  I feel deeply attached to the tolerance of British culture.  London is the true cosmopolitan city... you can be yourself."

Pablo Casals and the pianist Edwin Fischer, as well as a string of German-Jewish musicians, had the greatest influence on the pianist in England...

Uchida... achieved widespread acclaim throughout thirty years of her illustrious career...

Above all... she is a brilliant interpreter of Mozart and Schubert... followed by Beethoven, Debussy, Schumann, Chopin.  Her award-winning recordings of the complete Mozart piano sonatas and concertos... where she often conducts from the piano... have cult status among music lovers...

Uchida... dazzled... playing... "Les trois dernières sonates pour piano"... at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées...

Franz Schubert's...

"Sonate n° 19 en ut mineur D.958...

Sonate n°  20 en la majeur D.959"...

However, the most awe inspiring was the last tranche of the recital...

Schubert's "Sonate n° 21 en ut mineur D.960"...

Mitsuko's magical hands... hovered... caressed... rattled... and on occasion pounded the keyboard...

A forceful and energetic virtuoso... we admired her perfect timing... dramatic, imperious, and powerful gestures... a force of life.

With a daring mane... of peppery black hair...

Uchida...

A tiny... figure is...

Larger... than life...

Her performance... was brilliant.

She brought Schubert to life...

The black and white keys were... dancing... joyous... happy... then...

Passionate... angry... furious...

A drama of emotion... was at play.

Her performance... was coming to an end...

She finished... the last notes with a flourish... a tilt of the head... a flip of the hair...

Suddenly...

It's... over.

The audience... went wild.

The clapping was... thunderous.

The shouting... the clamouring for more...

"Bravo... Bravo... Bravo"...

Mitsuko Uchida...

Stood up...

Bent down... deeply...

Like only... the impeccably courteous and disciplined people of Japan can do...

An impressive gesture... beautiful to behold.

Moving... emotive...

Brilliant.

After... a few more deep bows...

Uchida...

One of the world's most eminent concert pianists... ever...

Walked off... the stage...

Into... the rainy...

Parisian...

Night.

a.

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