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.”
MusicWeb International - Stephen Greenbank / April 2017
“Franz Liszt is generally regarded as the greatest pianist of all time, in much the same way as Niccolò Paganini reigned supreme over the violin. So, it comes as no surprise that the bulk of the Lisztian oeuvre is devoted to the piano. Through his music the composer transformed the instrument into a vehicle of virtuosity. His working life coincided with the development and emergence of the modern piano. In addition to his original compositions, Liszt wasn’t averse to making transcriptions of other composer’s music as well as his own. This gave audiences, before the advent of recordings, their sole opportunity to hear such music in the drawing rooms and salons. The Beethoven Symphonies, which he transcribed, are examples that immediately spring to mind.
Liszt’s transcriptions appear in arrangements for solo piano, two pianos and one piano with four hands. It’s in the latter category that the Duo Tsuyuki-Rosenboom perform their recital. They were formed in 2009, and this is their debut CD. They’ve chosen musical compositions ‘based on different programmatic backgrounds from the visual arts, literature and philosophy’. Of the four works featured, three are transcriptions by Liszt, with the Totentanz, Paraphrase on ‘Dies irae’ in an arrangement by the duo themselves. It’s noticeable that in the three transcriptions by Liszt, he is careful to avoid a mere ‘copy and paste’ approach, rather allowing the music to metamorphose completely transformed with additional material added. He explores the instrument’s capabilities to the full, exploiting it’s myriad range of colour and sonority.
The star of this impressive spectacle of sound is the duo’s own transcription of Totentanz, from which the album takes it’s title. It’s literally a mind-blowing extravaganza of scintillating pianism. A stomping rhythm ushers in the theme, and my first reaction was to have a double take, thinking an orchestra had entered the fray. The players achieve some wonderful sonorities and this, together with Odradek’s state-of-the-art sound makes for a thrilling aural experience. The duo cleverly employ some acoustic props such as quicksilver harp effects by strumming the piano strings, drums and castanets, rhythmic tapping to evoke skeletal bodies ……..it just goes on!
The other three works are here receiving their world première recording debuts in these four hand incarnations. Pianistic virtuosity and profound musicianship strongly make their mark. It’s a delight to encounter the ‘Hunnenschlacht’, which is a new one for me. I particularly enjoyed hearing the more familiar ‘Les Préludes’ which, in it’s orchestral version, has always been one of my favorite orchestral showpieces.
This is a spectacular debut recital disc, well-recorded and inclusive of some well-written documentation in English, German and Japanese. The Duo Tsuyuki-Rosenboom’s polished performances are carefully detailed, idiomatically phrased and finely-graded dynamically. Their like-minded commitment, shared empathy and singularity of vision, secure the performance’s success. You’re in for a treat.”
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.”