Point and Line: Momo Kodama performs Etudes by Debussy and Hosokawa

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COMPOSERS: Debussy,Hosokawa
LABELS: ECM
ALBUM TITLE: Point and Line
WORKS: Debussy: Etudes pour piano; Hosokawa: Etudes I-VI
PERFORMER: Momo Kodama (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 481 4738

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Forget other recordings of Debussy’s Etudes. Not that this is better than Gieseking, Pollini, Uchida, Bavouzet and the rest – it’s merely that such comparisons are redundant. Instead of starting at page one of Etude one and ending with the rousing conclusion of ‘Pour les accords’, Momo Kodama juxtaposes these masterpieces with Toshio Hosokawa’s six Etudes from nearly a century later, not as a filler, but the mortar between a reordering of Debussy’s pieces.

The result is a fascinating meta-work that creates myriad associations, resonances and new perspectives, not just between the two composers, but also within Debussy’s cycle from hearing the pieces out of the expected order. Rather than provide a pool of relaxed calm as the penultimate etude, ‘Pour les arpèges composés’ acts as a sublime curtain-raiser, hinting that we have stepped into an ongoing dialogue. Hosokawa’s second etude ‘Point and Line’, which gives the disc its title, is initially mouse-like, creeping and scurrying, but his creations do much more than simply nibble at the Debussyan feast. ‘2 lines’ could be a meditation on the opening of ‘The Little Shepherd’ from Children’s Corner. Kodama brings a wonderful capacity for stillness to Hosokawa’s often ascetic language, from which the occasional irruption bursts forth. There are occasional caveats, such as the lack of impetuosity in ‘Pour les cinq doigts’, but this is an inventive exploration of both composers.

Christopher Dingle

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Listen to an excerpt from this recording here.