on 16 March 2024

  • Coco Tomita at Breinton

    Coco Tomita at Breinton

  • Coco Tomita and Simon Callaghan

    Coco Tomita and Simon Callaghan

  • Coco Tomita

    Coco Tomita

  • Simon Callaghan

    Simon Callaghan

  • Coco Tomita

    Coco Tomita

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Photographs by David Hogg of Horizon Imaging.


We concluded an action-packed week at Breinton with a performance by violinist Coco Tomita and pianist Simon Callaghan. It has been a pleasure to see Coco’s continuous musical development over the years. Although she is still a conservatoire student in Germany (splitting her time between Berlin and London), she has matured from a very young violinist with phenomenal talent and potential to a creatively-charged performer with deep thought and her own poise and ambiance. Now together with pianist Simon Callaghan, a recital partner of many notable instrumentalists, she is embarking on her second album, the repertoire of which includes Janáček’s only Violin Sonata, Enescu’s Impressions from Childhood and Prokofiev’s Violin Sonata No. 1. This is a set of pieces that requires some monstrous effort, to put it lightly, and this evening’s programme included all these pieces.

In Janáček’s Violin Sonata, Coco and Simon brought out its unique atmospheric scent and harmonious beauty in full. Composed in troubled times, the Sonata has some steely aggression yet breathtakingly mellowing moments at the same time. The stark contrast was acutely felt in Coco’s playing, and Simon’s piano part flowed with consistent warmth, as both the instruments mingled expertly.

Enescu’s Impressions d’enfance was a piece of sublime storytelling, but it must have required a firing focus on the performers’ part! Each miniature scene was created by stretching the instruments’ (and performers’) ability to generate an unbelievably wide range of tones and complex harmonies and rhythms that you would not normally hear in a traditional audience-friendly repertoire. For instance, in Old Beggar, I imagined an elderly beggar on a street dragging his feet in a reluctant manner as if wanting to make a minimal effort; in The Brook at the Bottom of the Garden, I pictured a stream forming irregular trickling in a somewhat daydreaming way; The Bird in the Cage and the Cuckoo on the Wall, presented sounds that were all vividly alive; and so on! It was amusingly imagination-provoking and could be quite addictive! Tonight was their very first public performance of the suites, and we are glad to be able to give this opportunity as their first platform.

Prokofiev’s Violin Sonata No. 1 portrayed the darkest musical scenery. With the chillingly haunting passages in the first movement, it felt like some sort of creepy and evil spirits were moving about. The melancholy, lamenting melody of the violin was hovering over the impactful, heavy bells of in the piano’s deep base – I thought the duo-ship was superb. I very much liked the ending; after so many dark and seemingly intoxicating ups-and-downs, it felt like it came to an end with a quiet and mournful prayer.

After three rather intense pieces, Claude Debussy’s La fille aux cheveux de lin, beautifully arranged by Arthur Hartmann, was like discovering a peaceful island with a fresh breeze after swimming through the dark ocean; effective programming! Tzigane, Ravel’s frenzy gipsy affair, finished their recital in high spirits. Debussy’s Beau Soir as an encore was a perfect gift to the audience at the end of the evening.


Megan Clarke

Hailed by critics and audiences alike, Japanese violinist Coco Tomita first gained public recognition after winning the BBC Young Musician 2020 Strings Category. Her success led to an invitation to record a debut album with Orchid Classics, numerous approaches by music festivals across the UK, and an extensive concert tour of Japan. She was named as ‘One to watch’ by Gramophone Magazine and ‘Young Classical Star’ by Classic FM. Her debut album ‘Origins’ received a succession of rave reviews from The Strad, Gramophone Magazine, BBC Music Magazine and The Guardian, among others, and was selected as ‘Disc of the month’ by Apple in April 2022. 

Megan Clarke

Simon Callaghan performs internationally as a soloist and chamber musician, in parallel with a highly successful career as a recording artist. A favourite performer at the internationally- renowned Husum Festival of Piano Rarities in Germany, Callaghan’s recent sell-out concert was praised by VAN Magazine as a “cleverly curated recital full of discoveries” and by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung as “technically brilliant”. Callaghan has developed a wide following and appears on a regular basis in the UK’s major concert halls, and on tours to Asia, North America and Europe.

  • Enescu
    • Impressions d'enfance, Op. 28
  • Janáček
    • Violin Sonata
  • Prokofiev
    • Violin Sonata in F minor, Op. 80
  • Debussy
    • La fille aux cheveux de lin (arr. Arthur Hartmann)
  • Ravel
    • Tzigane


  • Debussy
    • Beau Soir, arr. Heifetz