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Born in Japan, but educated in Europe, the internationally acclaimed classical pianist Momo Kodama is a formidable doyenne of the piano, someone who has built a career both on performing a wide repertoire from various Classical and Romantic periods and more contemporary works. It's a career that has been built on upending tradition as she pushed this instrument into fresh and varied music worlds. In an interesting way, the composers whose work she has recorded for this album, Claude Debussy, and Toshio Hosokawa have come from totally opposed corners of the world and yet, in their work they have found inspiration by looking far from their homes in opposite and distant places from their own backyards. The album also reflects the cross-cultural tendencies also bolstered by the label, ECM.
What is evident are the abstract musical worlds reflected in the works of both composers, with Debussy's Études and Hosokawa's Études I-VI. As a whole, the recording is thoughtful throughout, if not always contemplative. These compositions take the listener through a wide range of sounds without losing focus. What strikes first is the clarity of Kodama's playing and as a result, none of the compositions outstay their welcome. Obviously, by mixing the selection of compositions, she has entered into a place where the worlds of both composers collide and mesh. It's a place full of surprises and a quiet drama, full of whispered figures, evaporating echoes, and beautiful cascades of notes. Each of these compositions has their own motivations, different forms, and frames, where each composition and performance arrive at different destinations.
The pieces evolve slowly where they seem to be verging on the edges of subtleties of texture, echo, and harmonics. Great attention is given to details and nuances which in turn makes this recording a detailed and private exploration of the sonics of the piano. Every detail about this music indicates that Kodama is an exceptionally thoughtful interpreter, with musicianship that more than matches her technical gifts.
Track Listing: Pour les Arpèges composés; Point and Line; Pour les Quartes; Calligraphy,
Haiku, 1 Line; Pour les Sixtes; 2 Lines; Pour les Sonorités opposées; Pour les
Tierces; Pour les huit doigts; Lied, Melody; Pour les ‘cinq doigts’ d’après
Monsieur Czerny; Pour les Accords; Pour les Agréments; Ayatori, Magic by 2
hands, 3 Lines; Pour les Degrés chromatiques; Anger (Toshio Hosokawa); Pour
les Notes répétées; Pour les Octaves;
I was first exposed to jazz while learning to play chess with my uncles. They would play smooth jazz, and then switch up to more standard types of jazz. But, when they played Kind of Blue by Miles Davis, I was
hooked and I haven't looked back.