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.”
The Arts Desk - Graham Rickson / 25 March 2017
“Enrique Granados’s Goyescas is yet another significant piano work inspired by visual art; Granados having collected Goya’s artworks for several years, completing this cycle of six pieces between 1909 and 1912. He aimed to suggest moods rather than offer literal musical depictions, so a crepuscular number like El fandango de candil reflects Goya’s striking use of light and shade, and the trills in Quejas o la maja y el ruiseñor depict the artist’s favourite nightingale. Pianist Javier Negrín has the music’s measure, compelling even when the music becomes daringly spare: there's a palpable chill in the air at the close of El amor y la muerte and the sequence’s throwaway closing gesture is wonderfully handled. Granados wrote of Goyescas as containing three great emotions: “intense sorrow, amorous longing and final tragedy”, and it's chilling to read an account the composer's tragic end in 1916, drowning whilst attempting to save his wife after his ship had been torpedoed in the English Channel.
Negrin couples the Granados with some Mompou, another neglected figure whose music really should be better known. His set of Variations sur un thème de Chopin is a readily accessible treat, Chopin’s A major Prelude prompting 12 short variations. Which, despite their Chopinesque contours, all sound utterly Mompouvian. This is defiantly unshowy music, and Negrin understands the need for understatement, for restraint. The eighth variation may induce tears, so beautifully does Negrin handle it. Time stands still at the close of the Epilogo. It’s glorious, and another ideal entry point into the music of this addictive composer.”
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.”