Modern piano music by young performers – Odradek Records

Modern piano music by young performers

Odradek records
5 young women play modern piano music from Odradek records.
Aki Kuroda - 20th century transcriptions: Debussy, Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Mahler (2014) - Samples
Mei Yi Foo - 'Musical Toys': Gubaidulina, Chin, Ligeti (2011) - Samples
Mariann Marczi - 'Splinters': Ligeti, Kurtag, Bartok, Kodaly, Jeney, Caspo (2013) - Samples
Diana Gabrielyan - Stravinsky, Shostakovich, Babajanyan, Mansuryan (2014) - Samples
Yukiko Kojima - Akira Miyoshi (2013) - Samples

Mei Yi Foo - Musical Toys
Mei Yi Foo – Musical Toys

A very interesting CD by Mei Yi Foo ‘Musical toys’.
The title comes from Sofia Gubaidulina‘s (1931*) 14 miniatures (1969) for piano, childish, poetic, technically diverse, sounded very much Debussy to my ears.
Then a world premiere recording, Six piano études (1995-2003) by Unsuk Chin (1961*). These studies build complex structures from simple material. The overall impression is of joyful and playful piano music.
Finally, Musica ricercata (1951-53) by György Ligeti (1923-2006), though composed early, while still in Hungary, don’t sound for me as the cliché “neo-Bartokian”, but surprisingly modern. Well-deserved praise for the Malaysian-born pianist Mei Yi Foo.

Mariann Marczi - Splinters
Mariann Marczi – Splinters

The title comes from György Kurtág’s (1926*) 4 pieces Splinters (1978). These short pieces are rather simple but attracts by their resonances. 2 little pieces then, a charming Ligeti étude (Fém from Book II – 1989) and a Meditation sur un motif de Claude Debussy by Kodály (1907), based on a motif from the String quartet, superb unkown piece. The Seven pieces for piano (1910-18) present subtle harmonies in either French or Hungarian-folk inspired passages.
Then by László Lajtha (1892-1963) – (… de l’automne et du champ…) from Contes Op. 2, No. 10, Béla Bartók (1881-1945) – Trois Burlesques pour piano, Op. 8:c (1908-12), Zoltán Jeney (1943*) – Ricercare (1992) Arthur Rimbaud in the Desert (1976) and by Gyula Csapó (1955*) – The Ultimate Goal (1986). The Lajtha shows a beautiful Schoenberg flavor; after the Bartók’s three pieces played here rather quietly, 2 more recent Hungarian composers. The Jeney’s Ricercare is a very static piece, his second one seems to be based on the same notes, its monodic pattern getting boring. The Csapó’s one too… Anyway a altogether consistent recital, very well played.

Diana Gabrielyan
Diana Gabrielyan

Igor Stravinsky – Piano Sonata (1924) – Piano Rag Music (1919) – Ragtime (1919) – Tango (1940)
Dmitri Shostakovich – Piano Sonata No 1 Op 12 (1926)
Arno Babadjanyan  (1921-1983) – Elegy (1978) – Impromptu (1936) – Danza di Vagharshapat – Six Pictures (1965)
Tigran Mansurian (1939*) – Three Pieces (1970-71)

Superbe playing in Stravinsky’s Piano sonata, especially the Adagietto, played in a music box manner. Maybe the 3 following pieces leck of some ‘rag’.  The Shosta’s 1st sonata is certainly a good choice, since it sounds like inspired by Igor (and Sergueï). Very clean and authoritative piano playing. 
Then the two armenian composers. Nine pieces by Arno Babadjanyan, the first 3 ones, rather conventional; the Six pictures are far more interesting, in their serial language allowing however very moving atmospheres (Chorale). A discovery.
The Mansurian 3 pieces emphasize on resonances, much in a Schoenberg / Boulez filiation (the sleeve says Boulez played once his music).  Again a precious discovery.

Yukiko Kojima
Yukiko Kojima

Akira Miyoshi (1933-2013) – Sonate pour piano (1958) – Chaînes, Préludes pour piano (1973) – En Vers (1980) – Pour le piano, mouvement circulaire et croisé (1995-96).

The Japanese composer Akira Miyoshi had studied in Paris in the 1950’s, which can be spotted in his Sonate (Dutilleux), alternating very dynamic passages and suspended chords. A very attaching work. Chaînes present actually 24 préludes in 3 parts, I found them more exterior than the Sonata, as for En vers. Pour le piano, though presenting again many meditative periods sounds more imaginative and convincing. Superb pianist again here.

Aki Kuroda plays 20th Century transcriptions
Aki Kuroda plays 20th Century transcriptions

First, a rather disappointing ‘transcription’ or rewriting by Yoichi Sugiyama of Mahler’s 5th Adagio, sort of sugar compilation. Not much better with Stravinsky’s Firebird transcription by Guido Agosti: it needs fingers, we have them here, but no atmosphere neither any tone imagination.
Things are getting better with Debussy’s Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune transcribed by Leonard Borwick. A performance by itself, but a rather dull piano touch: no thrill, not much dreamlike atmosphere, just very good piano playing. The most interesting part is the Schoenberg’s 1st chamber symphony transcribed by Eduard Steuermann, again a challenge. The pianist’s virtuosity is undoubtful, I just think it lacks of some inner musicianship and style. I generally don’t publish anything on this blog when I don’t like the interpretation, but this belonged to a pack of Cds received from the same editor, and it’s worth for pianists in quest of rare repertoire.

Interesting texts and very good piano sound all along.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.