Aki Kuroda - FIREBIRD: 20th Century Piano Transcriptions.
- 01 Mahler-Sugiyama – Super-Adagietto Intermezzo XIII
- 02 Stravinsky-Agosti – L’oiseau de feu – I Danse infernal du roi Kastchei
- 03 Stravinsky-Agosti – L’oiseau de feu – II Berceuse
- 04 Stravinsky-Agosti – L’oiseau de feu – III Finale
- 05 Debussy-Borwick – Prelude a L’apres-midi d’un faune, L 86
- 06 Schoenberg-Steuermann – Kammersymphonie No 1 in E major, Op 9 – I Langsam – Sehr rasch
- 07 Schoenberg-Steuermann – Kammersymphonie No 1 in E major, Op 9 – II Feurig – Hauptzeitmass – ruhiger – sehr rasch
- 08 Schoenberg-Steuermann – Kammersymphonie No 1 in E major, Op 9 – III Viel langsamer – fliessender – schwungvoll – Hauptzeitm
- 09 Schoenberg-Steuermann – Kammersymphonie No 1 in E major, Op 9 – IV Etwas ruhiger – steigerd – Hauptzeitmass
AKI KURODA – FIREBIRD: 20th Century Piano Transcriptions.
Stravinsky, Debussy, Schoenberg, Mahler
Japanese pianist Aki Kuroda presents four orchestral works from two major centers of European culture, Paris and Vienna, at the dawn of the 20th century, written by four composers who perhaps more than any others were shaping the course of new music at the time.
Here heard transcribed for piano solo, she reveals new perspectives on them, allowing us to encounter the music afresh, in its boldest, and perhaps most essential form. The disc opens with a work specially commissioned for the CD, Yoichi Sugiyama’s transcription of Mahler’s Adagietto, from the 5th Symphony, richly enhanced in a vein similar to Busoni’s Super Carmen. Stravinsky’s Firebird follows, in Guido Agosti’s virtuosic arrangement, and then Leonard Borwick’s atmospheric resetting of Debussy’s Prélude à L’après-midi d’un faune. Steuermann’s incredibly difficult transcription of Schoenberg’s Kammer-symphonie, Op. 9 closes the disc, a work that extends tonality and human dexterity to its furthest limits, and one which spelled modernity to its contemporaries and particularly the disciples of the Second Viennese School, and in this transcription, clearly foreshadows Berg’s Sonata to come. An artist famous for Tango and Jazz, a frequent collaborator with Japanese traditional singers, and the performer of the Final Fantasy X. XIII videogame soundtracks, Aki Kuroda continues to expand her pianistic horizons to now include the novel tone pallets and expansive sound-space of modern orchestral writing, in the process, bringing us intriguingly into closer proximity to the composer, and to the act of composing itself.
Booklet in English, Italian, and German.
Program notes by Hugh Collins Rice.
“Kuroda certainly has the fingers to cope with all four [works].”
The Guardian – Andrew Clements / 12 June 2014
“Kuroda certainly has the fingers to cope with all four [works].”
“Aki Koruda’s introduction to the latter is wondrous, Stravinsky’s horn melody stealing in over an immaculately realised tremolando… Kuroda’s fearless precision pays huge dividends in such mercurial music…”
The Arts Desk – Graham Rickson / 9 August 2014
“‘Transcription can bring us to the music, and to its original hearers, afresh.’ Hugh Collins Rice’s sleeve notes point out that we’re listening to the four pieces on this disc in a form which would have been familiar to fin de siècle audiences, for whom piano arrangements would have offered the only opportunity to experience much new music. Three movements from Stravinsky’s Firebird were transcribed in 1928 by Guido Agosti, and they’re a delight, bringing the harmonies into sharper focus and adding percussive glitter. The "Danse infernale" sounds not unlike Ravel, and it’s followed by the Berceuse and Finale. Aki Koruda’s introduction to the latter is wondrous, Stravinsky’s horn melody stealing in over an immaculately realised tremolando. Koruda follows it with an imaginative transcription of Debussy’s Prélude à l’aprés-midi d’un faune made by the English pianist Leonard Borwick. As with the Stravinsky, Debussy’s harmonies can be heard in sharper focus, though there’s no loss of poetry.
Rarer still is a piano version of Schoenberg’s quicksilver Chamber Symphony, transcribed by the composer’s pupil Edward Steuermann in 1920. Kuroda’s fearless precision pays huge dividends in such mercurial music, Schoenberg paying his respects to Mahler and Strauss as well as looking forward. It’s magnificent, and highly accessible.”
“… very good piano playing. The most interesting part is Schoenberg’s first chamber symphony transcribed by Eduard Steuermann… The pianist’s virtuosity is undoubted… for pianists in quest of rare repertoire.”
BBC Music Magazine - Michael Church / 31 July 2015
“It’s customary for young composers to accompany new works with detailed pieces of exegesis: Rodolphe Bruneau-Boulmier’s CD benefits – if that’s the right word – from an encomium by musicologist Nicolas Southon. Bruneau-Boulmier’s work is ‘incontestably French by virtue of its refinement, its quest for a certain euphony, its extremely well-crafted writing, its self-restrained lyricism, and its skilful ability to make an acoustic space come into being’. His musical grammar encompasses ‘resonating textures, eruptive figures, powerful hammering, virtuosic toccatas, lyrical spirals across the keyboard’, plus the inevitable ‘mysterious silences’. Name-checked inspirations include Dylan Thomas, Serge Gainsbourg and Walter Benjamin; Brahms, Ravel and Albéniz are acknowledged influences.
Should a critic read this stuff before listening? I did, but it didn’t help. Yet, as played by Geoffroy Couteau, pretty well every bar here is in some way beautiful. This composer creates sound-worlds which – though not exactly tonal – radiate a comforting security, whether with wandering melodic lines or with noisy note-clusters; he manages his contrasts in colour and texture with considerable skill.
But after 20 minutes you realise you’ve heard all Bruneau-Boulmier tricks; each piece is a bright confection, but it’s a catalogue of effects with no dramatic structure. Only in the El Borge four-hand suite – pervaded by the spirits of Granados and Albéniz – does one have any sense of atmosphere or individuality; the residue of the rest is an elegant blur.”
Record Geijutsu - Aki Hamada / 2015
“ Aki Kuroda lives in Milan, and she is one of the mid-career pianists performing internationally. Here she appears with highly motivated programme consisting of works written by four great composers, who built up 20th century music as a mainstay. Namely, first of all she plays Mahler’s ‘Adagietto’, which she specially asked Yoichi Sugiyama to arrange as a piano solo for recording of this time. (Its arrangement has so much pianistic figuration until the end that the original melody is almost buried, which is why this is called “Super Adagietto”.) Then Stravinsky’s ‘The Firebird’ arranged by Guido Agosti, then Debussy’s ‘Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun’ arranged by L. Borwick, and at the end the piano solo version of ‘Chamber Symphony No.1 E-major’ arranged by Schönberg and F. Steuermann are placed. I hear the last piece is what Aki Kuroda had been longing to play and record for a long time. And the other three pieces seemingly came to the surface as a garnish to those above. The playing of any one of these pieces is excellent, replete with vivid technique and sensitivity as expected from this pianist; worth listening to from start to finish. However I’d like to add only one regrettable point. This CD is a foreign version coming with Japanese commentary which is a little too short written by the pianist herself. These pieces, especially Schoenberg’s are not easy to approach, so I wished that by any means there should had been materials to help us to know the “best parts”. That’s a pity.”
“In Kuroda’s brilliant hands Stravinsky’s Firebird and Debussy’s L’après-midi sound natural on piano, and even Mahler’s string Adagietto works. Schoenberg’s Chamber Symphony No.1 feels new.”
BBC Music Magazine - Michael Church/ January 2015
“In Kuroda’s brilliant hands Stravinsky’s Firebird and Debussy’s L'après-midi sound natural on piano, and even Mahler’s string Adagietto works. Schoenberg’s Chamber Symphony No.1 feels new.”
“Aki Kuroda… transforms the music into a vessel of pianistic virtuosity.”
Fono Forum - Giselher Schubert / 17 June 2015
“Aki Kuroda... transforms the music into a vessel of pianistic virtuosity.”