Following upon presentations of Japanese traditional arts at the Kennedy Center Friday and Saturday night, a trio of Japanese artists yesterday afternoon underscored their country's equal ability in Western classical music. Violinist Masuko Ushioda and flutist Toshiko Kohno, assisted by the latter's mother, pianist Sumiko Kohno, joined in a benefit concert at the Terrace Theater for the Japan-America Society.
It proved a particularly fortuitous combination, for the two women have strongly contrasting styles. Violinist Ushioda, now resident in Boston and a winner of the prestigious Tchaikovsky and Queen Elizabeth competitions, brought a vigorous, almost muscular, approach to her half of the program. She projected the multiple lines of Bach's D-minor Partita with exceptional clarity and exploited its tempo contrasts by taking the opening section at an extremely slow pace that strained though never exceeded her ability to sustain the melodic flow. A fresh and flowing work for solo violin by the contemporary Japanese composer Kazao Fukushima, and Saint-Saens' "Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso" benefited as well from Ushioda's precision and power.
Toshiko Kohno, well known as the National Symphony's principal flutist, turned her half of the recital into pure grace. From the opening Beethoven "Serenade" through the Suite by the 19th-century Belgian, Benjamin Godard, and the final, haunting piece by the blind kotoist Michio Miyagi, Kohno displayed a gentle lyricism, unfolding one delicately turned phrase after another. Pianist Sumiko Kohno ably supported both players with a sure and sensitive touch.