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Akira Miyoshi (born 1933) is one of Japan’s most venerable composers. He studied in mid-1950s 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 le 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.

GUY RICKARDS Read the full review on Agora Classica


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