Japanese pianist Aki Kuroda presents four orchestral works from a pair of major centres 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 richly enhanced transcription of Mahler’s Adagietto from the Fifth Symphony. Stravinsky’s Firebird follows, in Guido Agosti’s virtuosic arrangement, and then Leonard Borwick’s atmospheric resetting of Debussy’s masterpiece, Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune. Finally comes Steuermann’s incredibly difficult transcription of Schoenberg’s Kammersymphonie, Op. 9, a work that extends tonality and human dexterity to its furthest limits.