"Akira Miyoshi - Piano Works" - Yukiko Kojima

Japanese pianist Yukiko Kojima brings together in a rare disc the major piano works of her compatriot Akira Miyoshi. Drawing on Eastern traditions, physiological breath itself seems to dictate the rhythm of musical gestures and phrases. The emotions expressed vary continuously, as if the piano itself had its own language and told a story: one of fragile beauty and fleeting changes of delicate colors.



"A refreshing record vibrant in color and fragile beauty... Kojima expressively plays the often dramatic and tragic notes of Miyoshi in stunning fashion with such poise and depth that other pianists would crumble at such meticulous levels... The difficulty and cringing intensity of Kojima’s latest effort is a remarkable achievement and a daring risk worth tak[ing]."

July 31, 2013


“Miyoshi was a child prodigy on the piano, and his music ruminates and coruscates with natural ease and force in the sensitive hands of Yukiko Kojima”

Irish Times Michael Dervan August 23, 2013


“Berg’s harmonic language comes to mind in the earliest work, the 1958 three-movement Sonata, along with Bartókian rhythmic drive in the finale and whirling two-handed patters that resemble what might have happened if Messiaen recomposed the last movement of Beethoven’s Appassionata Sonata. Kojima plays this music with a commanding technique and a true sense of how its component parts cohere. In Chaînes, Kojima imparts sharply contrasting character to all of the disparate textures, from slow and amorphous sustained chords to rapid, spiky flourishes. Gently dense harmonies define the soft chordal movement in the outer sections of En vers, while the central climax typifies Miyoshi’s thorniest dissonant outbursts. Of the two most recent pieces, Mouvement Circulaire et croisé stands out for its short phrases demarcated by pauses, and the way the phrases grow increasingly elaborate and petulant yet never clutter the canvas. Again, Kojima’s feeling for nuance and intelligent voicings make a compelling case for a composer who deserves greater renown in the West.”

Gramophone Jed Distler Awards 2013


"In pianist Yukiko Kojima’s hands, every phrase speaks with calm authority, each sonorous chord immaculately balanced... Music of rare potency and individuality; an hour spent with this disc will have you scurrying to Wikipedia and Youtube in search of more Miyoshi. As usual, Odradek’s elegant presentation adds to the disc’s appeal."

Arts Desk Graham Rickson September 21, 2013


“Akira Miyoshi was 80 in 2013. Like his close contemporary Takemitsu, he studied in France and was profoundly influenced by the French post-Impressionist repertoire, citing Messiaen and Dutilleux as important influences. Unlike Takemitsu, his music is often active and flamboyant rather than contemplative, even in the early Piano Sonata (1958) which is as much post- Scriabinesque as Francophone and has a dynamic toccata- finale. The major work here Chaînes (1973), a three-movement assemblage of 24 ‘preludes’ or fragments, kaleidoscopic in character and often dramatic in gesture; but they often reflect or invoke each other, the music turning back on itself, underlining Miyoshi’s fascination with circularity and mirroring in musical form. En vers (1980) is more of a poetic miniature, though rising to a big climax, while Pour le piano — mouvement circulaire et croisé (1995-8) seems to be a work of memory, meditating on a lifetimes involvement with the instrument. In all of them there is a sense of connection to the act of breathing, defining the length and shapes of phrases.
I really enjoyed this disc. Miyoshi’s is distinguished, inventive and continuously stimulating music, full of beauty and colour and with a marvellous sensitivity to the full range of keyboard sonority and resonance (and indeed, silence). Yukiko Kojima’s stunning virtuosity is clearly allied to a deep insight into the works themselves.”


BBC Music Magazine Calum MacDonald Christmas Edition, 2013


Akira Miyoshi (hom 1933) is one of Japan's most venerable composers. He studied in mid-19505 Paris with Raymond Gallois-Montbrun {composer of ‘Japan’ Symphony) and Henri Challan, but the strongest influence on his work was Dutilleux, as the Piano Sonata (1957-1958) reveals. Its harmonic language. pulse and dimensions — the fast outer movements weightier than the central Andante — are modelled on the Frenchman‘s Piano Sonata of 1947. and the opening Allegro has the same easy flow as Dutilleux's Allegro con moto.

Chaînes: préludes (1973) is a very different work, a set of 24 preludes grouped into three parts. Four source preludes are varied, transformed and metamorphosed into aphoristic miniatures — lasting under 28 minutes in entirety. While each prelude individually seems raw and unfinished, taken collectively they form a work of some grandeur. By contrast. the single-movement En vers (1980) is an impressive arched structure of power.

Forget the Debussyan resonances implied in Pour Ie piano’s title. A diptych, this is another chain of inter-related fragments. According to the composer, it evokes ‘memories of his experiences with the piano going back to childhood.’ Each part is cast in arch form restrained at the opening and close, more volatile within.
Kojima sounds wholly in tune with Miyoshi‘s soundscapes and Odradek‘s excellent recording catches all the subtle nuances of her playing. Let’s hope she goes on to give us more Miyoshi. Recommended for all collectors of post-War piano music.

International Piano Magazine Guy Rickards, December 2013


“Kojima’s handling of Miyoshi with such delicateness and precision is pure art in motion. Its almost striking to realize how such softness and boldness could come out of such petite fingers. As the year progressed, our editorial staff began to realize how much Kojima’s album resonated upon additional listens – discovering new intricate details with every key. Kojima’s technique comes with a tightened control at an extremely high level of senses. If you were to choose the album of the year based upon difficulty and intelligence, nothing even comes close to being in the same league as Yukiko’s surprise hit. There’s a subtle pull that Kojima brings to Akira Miyoshi’s Piano Works and that firm grip is what in turns creates a sublimely [sic] gem of sonic craftsmanship. You’d be hard- press[ed] to find a reason not to instantly fall in love with Kojima’s performance and even harder-pressed to find another record this year treated with such devotion.

...Kojima’s Akira Miyoshi: Piano Works... [is] deserving of the title album of the year... [and] gets even more addictive with every new listen.”

Album of the Year - runner up



“Yukiko Kojima introduces us to the small (but valuable and revealing) pianistic production of Akira Miyoshi. An album that compiling works from the years of his youth in Paris, with his Sonata, until 1998, the year he concluded his work Pour le piano. A limpid and demanding writing in which Kojima addresses the most extreme parts with accuracy, and the most retracted and intimate ones with delight. Maybe you could only blame him for certain monotony in the dynamics of interpretation; the scores are overflown with contrasts missing a further impetus of expressive power. However, hats off to moments like the second movement of the Sonata (embroidered with expertise through phrases that touch almost the impossible, in a meditative swing almost in trance). And in front of the closed form of neoclassical reminiscences of the Sonata, the Preludes go deep into a freer music; the lack of an objective meter (that is marked instead by the very breath of the interpreter) makes each version unique. And the interpretation of Kojima is a very good proposal full of contrasts; from passages of serenity and resonance of tubular bells to moments of crystal clear speed. Pour le piano, with its circular and mixed moments, shows again these shocks of tranquillity and almost brutality that are denoted in the works of Miyoshi. A disc to travel in time (that of the history of music and the composer himself) and the ways of seeing the world (Eastern, Western). An introspection for solo piano superbly written and released. Not to be missed.”

**** EXCELENTE - Ritmo Inés Ruiz Artola March 2014