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No matter how fond we are of classical music, not many of us in the west are familiar with music-making in Japan, where western composers have a devoted and active following.

Since few Japanese labels have effective international distribution, it follows that we are probably missing quite a bit – in the case of this piano recital, musicianship of a high order. I had not heard of Yoshiko Katayama (or, indeed, of Live Notes, the label on which she has recorded; it is part of Nami Records, which can be found online at www.nami- recordings.co.jp) until a contact sent me this disc.

Katayama first studied in Japan, and then in Europe (from 1970-73) before returning home, and there she seems to have stayed. She is plainly a major pianist: what comes across from these three interpretations is unhurried wisdom and poise; you are in the presence of someone who has thought long and hard about the music and has insights to impart.

Her tempi are on the slow side, though her readings do not lack drama, and she has an acute sense of tone colour. The brief biography in the booklet suggests that she has made only three previous recordings (of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann and Chopin); in more ways than one, speed is obviously not one of her concerns, but I do hope she might begin to increase her recording output soon, and get her recordings heard around the globe: this woman deserves a large audience. The recorded sound is top-drawer, too.

MARTIN ANDERSON Read the full review on Agora Classica


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