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Japanese Piano Works / Gerhard Oppitz

Fujiie / Takemitsu / Ikebe / Gerhard Oppitz
Release Date: 08/30/2011 
Label:  Hänssler Classic   Catalog #: 98631   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Keiko FujiieToru TakemitsuShin-Ichiro IkebeSaburo Moroi
Performer:  Gerhard Oppitz
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

German pianist Gerhard Oppitz is known mostly for his recordings of music of the 19th century, but he has had a long interest in Japanese culture and music. With the exception of Toru Takemitsu (whose Rain-Tree Sketch is not among his better-known works in any case), the composers he samples here have rarely been performed in the West, and Oppitz renders valuable service as a guide. Most interesting may be the opening Suite: On the Water's Edge of Keiko Fujiie (born 1963), whose 12 movement titles suggest its pictorial quality. The work reflects neither Impressionist snapshots of Japan nor traditional materials; however, its vivid, dynamic images are rendered in precise, almost minimal strokes derived economically from small musical units. Read more Sample track 5, "A Dream of Floating in a Swimmingpool at Midnight," to hear Fujiie's sparse yet wonderfully evocative language. She seems to have been influenced by Takemitsu but to have avoided the jazz influences and the darkly dramatic qualities of his music. The final work, Saburo Moroi's Piano Sonata No. 2, is also unusual: it is in a Germanic style, somewhat resembling that of Hindemith, but there is something still quintessentially Japanese about it, residing mostly in the phrasing. In between are the short Takemitsu piece and the puzzlingly surreal La Terre est Bleue comme une Orange (The Earth Is Blue Like an Orange) by Shin-Ichiro Ikebe; these are diverting intermezzi at best, but the Fujiie work is worth the price by itself. So, too, is the engineering from the crack team at the Hänssler Classic label.

-- James Manheim, All Music Guide
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Works on This Recording

On the Water's Edge by Keiko Fujiie
Performer:  Gerhard Oppitz (Piano)
Rain Tree Sketch by Toru Takemitsu
Performer:  Gerhard Oppitz (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1981; Japan 
La Terre est Bleue comme une Orange by Shin-Ichiro Ikebe
Performer:  Gerhard Oppitz (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1989 
Sonata for Piano no 2 by Saburo Moroi
Performer:  Gerhard Oppitz (Piano)

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