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Hosokawa • Mozart: Piano Concertos

Momo Kodama (piano); Mito Chamber Orchestra/Seiji Ozawa (ECM)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Hosokawa • Mozart
Hosakawa: Lotus under the Moonlight; Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 23 in A, K 488
Momo Kodama (piano); Mito Chamber Orchestra/Seiji Ozawa
ECM 485 5413   49:19 mins

Japanese composer Toshio Hosokawa’s piano concerto, written in 2006 in response to Mozart’s A major K 488, is a cool customer indeed. This recording is from its Japanese premiere. Its guiding image, Lotus under the Moonlight, originates in the importance of this flower to Buddhism; the composer writes that the piano represents the opening bloom, the orchestra the surrounding water and universe. The delicacy of the orchestration and the hushed quality with which movement shivers through the textures is little short of magical. An evocation of nature and spirituality, certainly, but also a tribute to one of Mozart’s best-loved concertos, especially its matchless F sharp minor slow movement. Memories of those harmonies and twilit atmospheres are plentiful, but offer references without a hint of feeling ‘derivative’. The piece is followed, naturally, by the Mozart itself.

Momo Kodama is a subtle and poetic soloist in both works, in control of a particularly beautiful range of quiet sonorities in the Hosokawa and matching that, in the Mozart, with ‘pouring-oil’ passagework and deliciously pearly touch. Seiji Ozawa conducts his Mito Chamber Orchestra, performing with equal attention to detail, translucent textures and a deep sense of affection for the music. Recorded sound is icy-clear and precise. Occasionally Kodama can drift into what feels like a danger of daydreaming, which can lead to a slight loss of momentum. The Mozart Adagio, in particular, is extremely slow. Overall, however, this is a haunting and gorgeous performance.

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Jessica Duchen

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