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Satoshi Ishiyama Plays Cesar Franck And Guillaume Lekeu

Franck / Lekeu / Ishiyama
Release Date: 10/09/2012 
Label:  Anima Records (Classical)   Catalog #: 81000001   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  César FranckGuillaume Lekeu
Performer:  Satoshi Ishiyama
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 56 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

FRANCK Prélude, choral et fugue. Les plaintes d’une poupée. LEKEU Piano Sonata Satoshi Ishiyama (pn) ANIMA 81000001 (55:50)

Here’s a pleasant surprise: a Japanese pianist, formerly unknown to me, playing French music in an authentic French style. Indeed, Ishiyama’s performance of the Franck Prélude, choral et fugue compares favorably to Read more one of the greatest piano interpreters of the 20th century, Alfred Cortot, and that is indeed something. If anything, it is Ishiyama and not Cortot who is the more ruminative, stretching out the second-movement choral to 7:14 whereas Cortot plays it in under six minutes. Ishiyama is also rather measured in his tempo for the fugue, but he uses this extra time to bring out so many interesting rhythmic figures and utilizes rubato phrasing that adds an element of suspense to the proceedings.

A clue to Ishiyama’s feel for this music is given in the statement that he studied at the École Normale de Musique in Paris as well as the Conservatoire National de Région in Toulouse, and on the back cover of the booklet is the legend, “À Madame Gaby Casadesus.” I could not find a website for this artist at the time I reviewed the disc, but there may be a very good chance that Ishiyama studied with Gaby Casadesus, since he was born in 1964.

The pianist follows his excellent performance of the opening work with Franck’s rather short (two-minute) Les plaints d’une poupée, then tackles the Lekeu Sonata. Even though much of Lekeu’s music is unusual in both feeling and structure, I found this sonata to be very much in the style of Franck, with whom he studied, despite the linked movements. In this particular work, however, I found Ishiyama’s penchant for slowness more of a disadvantage than an asset. Although he does a very fine job of bringing out the emotional sensitivity of the work, I felt that his extremely slow tempos let the music fall apart structurally, and for a composer like Lekeu, who was as heavily influenced by Beethoven as by Franck, this is a detriment. Yes, of course there are several outstanding moments in Ishiyama’s performance when he slows the pace and reflects on a particularly moody passage, but for me, personally, the performance was just a shade too slack.

Oddly enough, I could not find any other recording of this piano sonata, either at Amazon or ArkivMusic. Both sites had listings for a violin-piano and a cello-piano sonata, but nothing for this particular work. I doubt that this is a world premiere recording because nothing in the packaging makes any reference to it as such, but—if it’s true that no competing version is available—one would have to recommend Ishiyama’s version because it is, at the moment, the only game in town, and he is certainly not a poor interpreter, just a slow one. All in all, a very interesting disc, well worth your attention.

FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley
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Works on This Recording

Prelude, Chorale and Fugue for Piano, M 21 by César Franck
Performer:  Satoshi Ishiyama (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1884; France 
Venue:  Studio de Meudon 
Length: 21 Minutes 17 Secs. 
Les plaintes d'une poupée, M 20 by César Franck
Performer:  Satoshi Ishiyama (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1865; France 
Venue:  Studio de Meudon 
Length: 2 Minutes 7 Secs. 
Piano Sonata in G minor by Guillaume Lekeu
Performer:  Satoshi Ishiyama (Piano)
Period: Post-Romantic 
Written: 1891 
Venue:  Studio de Meudon 
Length: 31 Minutes 40 Secs. 

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