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Notes on the performers
Furomoto studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London before earning a master’s degree in music from the University of London. Her debut recital in Tokyo in 1995 was also broadcast on Japan’s NHK-FM radio station. She performs regularly in the UK and Japan.
Alexander Scriabin (1872 – 1915)
Piano Sonata No. 2 Op. 19 “Sonata Fantasy”
Scriabin’s Piano Sonata No. 2 in G-sharp minor took five years for him to write. It was finally published in 1898, at the urging of his publisher. The piece is in two movements, with a style combining Chopin-like Romanticism with an impressionistic touch. The piece is widely appreciated and is one of Scriabin’s most popular pieces.
The first movement Andante, in sonata form, begins with echoing effects, followed by two lyrically themed sections. The first theme is in G-Sharp minor, but the following two come in B major (the relative major). After a
short climax in the development, the piece modulates to E major (also C-sharp minor) for the recapitulation and lyrical sections are restated with a slightly more complicated accompaniment. The second movement Presto, in sharp contrast to the first movement, is very fast and intense. Alternating crescendos and decrescendos may give the listener the impression of waves.
Isaac Albéniz (1860 – 1909)
From ‘Suite española’, No. 1 Op. 47
- Sevilla (Sevillanas)
- Asturias (Leyenda)
- Castilla (Seguidillas)
Suite española, is a suite for solo piano. It is mainly composed of works written in 1886 which were grouped together in 1887, in honour of the Queen of Spain. Like many of Albeniz’s works for the piano, these pieces depict different regions and musical styles in Spain. The work originally consisted of four pieces: Granada, Cataluña, Sevilla and Cuba. The editor Hofmeister republished the Suite española in 1912, after Albéniz’s death, but added Cádiz, Asturias, Aragón and Castilla. The other pieces had been published in other editions and sometimes with different titles (Asturias was originally the prelude from the suite Chants d’Espagne).
Claude Debussy (1862 – 1918)
Reflets dans l’eau
Debussy’s Reflets dans l’eau (“Reflections in the Water”) is the first of three piano pieces from his first volume of Images, written in 1905. As with much of Debussy’s work, it is referred to as Impressionistic, meaning that it expresses emotions and senses by making use of non-functional harmony and ambiguous key signatures, its tonality being mainly non-diatonic and usually having a sense of modality. Reflets dans l’eau opens in a slow tempo (andantino molto) (which is repeated through much of the piece) while the right hand is playing a set of chords to accompany the melody. It shares the main characteristics of French music of this period, similar to works by Ravel such as Jeux d’eau.
The piece has several brief melody statements and climaxes that are more glimpses of music than full ideas, which is typical of Debussy’s middle and late piano works. Writing “images”, Debussy was purposely intending not to create linear musical progression, but a sonic representation of water. Reflets dans l’eau is also an example of the new tone colors Debussy discovered for the piano in this part of his life, and although he later refined this style, it is representative of a major breakthrough in piano writing.
Frédéric Chopin (1810 – 1849)
Barcarolle, Op. 60
The Barcarolle in F-sharp major, Op. 60, is a piece for solo piano by Frédéric Chopin, composed between autumn of 1845 and summer 1846, three years before his death. Based on the barcarolle rhythm and mood, it features a sweepingly romantic and slightly wistful tone. Many of the technical figures for the right hand are thirds and sixths, while the left features very long reaches over an octave. Its middle section is in A major, and this section’s second theme is recapitulated near the piece’s end in F-sharp. It is also one of the pieces where Chopin’s affinity to the bel canto operatic style is most apparent, as the double notes in the right hand along with spare arpeggiated accompaniment in the left hand explicitly imitates the style of the great arias and scenas from the bel canto operatic repertoire. The writing for the right hand becomes increasingly florid as multiple lines spin filigree and ornamentation around each other.
Maurice Ravel (1875 – 1937)
Ondine (from ‘Gaspard de la nuit’)
Written in C♯ major and based on the poem “Ondine”, an oneiric tale of the water nymph Undine singing to seduce the observer into visiting her kingdom deep at the bottom of a lake. It is reminiscent of Ravel’s early piano piece, the Jeux d’eau, with the sounds of water falling and flowing, woven with cascades. There are five main melodies. The opening melody evokes a line of song and is similar in form and subject to the main theme in Sirènes from Debussy’s Nocturnes. This is interrupted by the second theme before opening up a longer melodic passage formed from the latter part of theme 1. Then a short simple melody introduces shimmering harmonic side-shifting. The final distinct melody is a menacing short rising figure, which prefaces the menace of Le Gibet and which later provides a bridge to the main climax. Ravel prioritises melodic development to express the poetic themes, keeping subordinate the simmering coloration of the right hand. By contrast, Claude Debussy’s works such as Reflets dans l’eau tend to treat melody more equally with harmonic and figurative impulsivity, and often position virtuosity more in the foreground.
Gershwin (1898 – 1937)
Summertime Variations (arr Fazıl Say)
Summertime Variations is the third arrangement Fazıl Say has made of Gershwin’s Summertime – and the first for solo piano. It begins and ends very quietly and cantabile with a meditation on the well-known opening motif. The complete melody then forms the basis for the swinging and extremely virtuoso Presto Variations of the central section. Source: Fazıl Say