On Saturday, February 26, 2022, Takagi Ryoma Piano Concert was held at Hamarikiya Asahi Concert Hall. After going through the “Piano Mori Concert” series, Takagi shows off his abilities in every episode. This time around, the heavyweight and ambitious plan also showed a breakthrough that didn’t disappoint.
The Hamariku Asahi Hall in Tokyo’s Tsukiji was packed on Saturday afternoon, with beautiful spring weather and fresh sunshine, which had not been relieved from the winter’s cold until the day before. Although there were a lot of people wandering around the venue, the venue lobby had a relaxed atmosphere, perfect for a calm afternoon before a show.
The first song to perform today is Chopin’s 24 Preludes Op.28, No.15 “Amedare”. In the hands of pianist Ryoma Takagi, this familiar song has also been invited to the deep world from the very beginning. Takagi himself stated in an initial interview that “a song suitable for the ‘barrier’ that invites you into extraordinary time and space”.
The famous tune at the beginning is beautifully sung, and every voice carries a thought. The eloquent singing leads the listener to a vague and unknown world with tenderness. Broken love…, don’t know if the longing for the one who desires has become an illusion, and young Chopin is enraged… Gradually, the tune is driven by restless emotions. The Takagi contrasts with the soft sound of rain at the beginning, making this situation stand out. Dramatically digging deep into the inner fold with various wiggling dynamics, it’s amazing.
The second song is “Reflections in the Water” in the image from Debussy’s first episode. The two songs that make you feel the sound of water continue, accompanied by a refreshing cool sound, and you will be drawn to what Takagi calls an “unusual world”. In the beginning, the beauty depicted by the reflection of light on the water is played in the high notes. Takagi maintains a delicate balance between bass and treble, steadily and dynamically depicting the swaying of light and shadow on the water. However, the dynamism and large scale of the piano pieces are never overdone, and he introspectively portrays the reflections of light, subtly expressing the serenity of the song.
The third song is the third “Carnival” from Humoresque Op. 19, featuring scenes from Grieg’s folk life and piano pieces. It opens with a unique tune that seems psychedelic and at the same time a folk song. The melody is full of emotion, and the context and situation depicted in the song is clearly presented to the listener.
In the middle, the feelings and storytelling and swirling joys of each character dressed as a carnival are depicted with great expressiveness and detail. The festival gradually culminates in somber tones and romantic tunes. It is obvious that the lively scenes and the anticipation for the finale are gradually increasing. In the end, all the participants of the festival become one and “explode” their feelings. Great performance is nice.
When I read Takagi’s program notes, the production said, “Grieg saw the carnival scene during his stay in Italy, and while enjoying the pattern, he was reminded of the festival in his hometown.” Grieg himself , on a young day, intertwined with the depiction of a gorgeous Latin festive atmosphere, the fire can be seen through the long fuse, and finally a small dove-shaped firecracker is released from the turret. Memories and nostalgia for the Norwegian festivals he experienced The nostalgia and sadness of the scene can be seen and hidden. In this way, Takagi expresses the various emotions and depths of the sculpture, as well as his wonderful composition.
This is followed by Brahms’s three interludes, Op. 117. Putting this soulful Brahms latest at the end of the first half of the show was Takagi’s attempt. During the initial interview, I wanted to tell myself “Life isn’t just for fun. It’s about worries and pain that people can’t tell.” I thought it would be nice to end the first part with three songs, this sad climax. “
No. 1 in E flat major / A peaceful heart filled with tunes reminiscent of a soft lullaby. However, in the middle section, that feeling is betrayed, Takagi spins the complex folds of the heart, and various thoughts of pain, loneliness, longing, etc. are distorted, and the heart is full of passion. Because of this, the lullaby at the beginning of the reenactment section made me feel the light of hope, as if it had been released from all my thoughts.
B-flat Minor No. 2 / Singing and swirling arpeggios depicting the swaying river’s heart. Condensed thoughts, even with a mysterious sadness. The layering between the flowing tunes, while the transparent harmonic progression, further emphasizes the “timeless freshness” that this impressive arpeggiated sound pattern exudes in the opening.
No. 3 in C sharp minor / Released from all thoughts, the movement of the heart in a state of obedience is rotated. Takagi confronts the 29-year-old’s life-size feelings and ends this profound portfolio with sincerity, but with a sense of scale.
The second half of the show was an exhibition of all the paintings of Pavani and Mussorgsky of the late Princess Ravel, as if walking into a studio. When Takagi was thinking about the overall picture of the show, he first wanted to play Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” at the end, and he said he built the entire composition in reverse from that. Before the “Painting Exhibition”, I brought Pavan for the late princess, because the “Painting Exhibition” is a work known to the world under the arrangement of the Ravel Orchestra, and the elaborate story of “I Want to Realize” is also very interesting. interesting.
Takagi said in his program notes to the late princess’ Pavane, “I’m lonely, beautifully depicting the tan melancholy psychological landscape in everyone’s heart.” The performance of the day was also the famous melody at the beginning, and I heard a realistic voice, It was as if the scene of the past day came to mind. It is not a brilliant color, but a space-time surrounded by sepia, as if the listener is transported back in time, driven by a sense of elegance, with a sound that brings a sense of wonder.
Next is the Mussorgsky suite “Pictures in the Exhibition”. Mussorgsky felt guilty for not being able to do anything as a friend at the death of his close friend Victor Hartmann (Victor Hartmann / 1834-73), and seemed obsessed with the painter’s remains. He composed a suite of piano suites consisting of 10 songs based on his paintings. This is the “painting exhibition”.
In addition to the songs associated with the painting’s title, the suite consists of a short episode called “The Walk,” in which the composer himself actually held a retrospective after Hartmann’s death, alluding to the appearance and psychology of facing each piece Image. The composition of the story of the suite itself is very skilled, but Takagi has various memories that the composer himself felt at the retrospective site and various paintings drawn by Hartmann. The 30-minute song collection, which shuttles back and forth between the history and the inexhaustible time and space woven by the background and characters, is interpreted with high concentration and perfection. Takagi’s musical and literary contextual interpretation and persuasion transcend this complex composition, giving the audience a perfect grasp of the entire story, which is breathtaking.
In the opening promenade I, the horns that marked the beginning of the grand picture reverberated in the hall space, and in the first song/Dwarf Gnomes that followed, the dwarf fairies in the mythical world were eerily and coquettishly depicted. The technology is clear.
In the second song/Kojo, the old-fashioned songs sung by the bard are eloquently reproduced. In addition to the vividness of the colors and the range of fluctuations in strength and weakness, the skill of the words is also outstanding, and even the breath of the bard can be felt.
And the fourth song/Bydlo. “Bydlo” is a cow used for labor. The whole story depicts the figure of a farmer pushing a heavy ox cart in a heavy voice. According to Takagi, “In the original piano version, it starts with a strong tonic from the very beginning, and there is no sense of distance between the painter and the subject.” It’s a wonderful feeling.
According to Progno, the word “Bidlo” also means “people are oppressed like livestock,” and in recent years “represents the suffering of the Polish people at the time of Russian oppression.” There seems to be an explanation. From this context, the song seems to use Hartmann’s painting to depict “a Polish hero who fought against his oppressors and resolutely went to death”, actually on a death journey. The title hero is dramatic. Many listeners were deeply moved by the power of Takagi’s “The Spectator,” which conveys in its true form the day Kyiv, Ukraine, and Russia began an urban battle. right.
The sixth song, Samuel Goldberg and Schumer, subtly depicts two Jewish figures, rich and poor. With Takagi’s rough piano tune in full swing on Promenade V, the scene of women chatting at the fair is brilliantly rendered in hilarious and sarcastic manner in song 7/Limoges fair.
Song No. 8 / Catacombs – The Roman cemetery depicts Mussorgsky, who is shocked by the sight of the stacked skulls in the catacombs. Takagi expresses the soul-oriented, ecstatic power of the composer’s eerie and eerie. And Mussorgsky’s feelings gradually accepted the death of his friend and became a feeling of the Holy Light (“with the dead, in the words of the dead”). Takagi listened to his heart intently.
Finally, the 30-minute suite is about to enter the finale. The ninth song / Baba Yaga, a hut built on chicken feet, begins with a ferocious theme, depicting the legendary old witch in Russian mythology running around at breakneck speed. The terrifying appearance of the yokai walking around in small steps seems to appear in front of you, and the skilled “messager” that makes the listener shudder makes you feel overwhelmed.
And the last song of catharsis, the tenth song / Kyiv gate. The grand theme that ends the suite is the bells of the Russian Orthodox Church. In honor of this divine voice, Hartmann’s soul was elevated. At the same time, the ideas of two great artists, Mussorgsky and Hartmann, are sublimated here. Takagi sang the voices of these two high-level artists to the sky in a powerful way. Strangely, however, on the day Russia invaded the city of Kyiv and a battle involving citizens took place, many viewers would have embraced the song with mixed emotions.
Takagi received warm applause after playing the last song. He greeted the audience with a microphone as he responded with multiple polite bows.
“I have a lot of ideas for this project, but one of them is that I hope you can travel to different countries and eras, and you can’t go abroad easily.
And today, as I play “Pictures at an Exhibition,” I can’t help but think about Ukraine. I play with a special feeling than usual. Next time I play this piece, I pray that I can play it with peace of mind. “..
Then, amid constant applause, Schumann’s trilogy was refreshing. Afterwards, Grieg’s lyrical sketch “Summer Night” neatly ended the day’s intensive program amid constant applause.
Interview/Text = Kumiko Asaoka Photo = Jun Arakawa