In the late 1980s pianist
Aki Takahashi commissioned 47 contemporary
composers to arrange their favourite
Beatles songs. For this disc, the second
on her own label, the young Japanese
pianist Chitose Okashiro has revisited
some of these transcriptions as well
as adding some others.
The disc opens with
"A Leaf", a piece by Paul
McCartney written after his Liverpool
Oratorio. This is a charming, if over-long,
piece in the style of an etude. Well
wrought, though undemanding, it lacks
the melodic spark of McCartney’s popular
arrangement of "Give Peace a Chance"
is the first of the transcriptions commissioned
by Aki Takahashi. A spiky, jazzy piece,
it uses the original Beatles material
simply as a starting point. This raises
the question of what is a transcription.
Some of the items on this disc are transcriptions
a la Liszt in which the original melodic
material are presented without much
in the way of adornment. Others, like
this one, are more free fantasias in
which the original piece is radically
transformed. The original material is
used simply as a key to the transcriber’s
own fantasy and often, as in Rzweski’s
piece, the original can disappear entirely.
The transcription of
"Hey Jude" is by Okashiro’s
brother, Ichizo Okashiro, and gives
us a transcription (in the Lisztian
sense) very much redolent of Percy Grainger’s
transcriptions of Gershwin tunes, complete
with Grainger’s beloved woggles.
of "Golden Slumbers", also
commissioned by Aki Takahshi, is purely
magical. Takemitsu succeeds in transforming
the original material into his own sound
world, whilst preserving the integrity
of Lennon and McCartney’s song. Takemitsu
went on to create a series of Beatles
arrangements for guitar which are well
worth searching out.
"Michelle" is a charming,
if rather too solid, re-creation of
the original. Ichizo Okashiro’s "Yesterday"
starts out traditionally, but develops
into something in a rather more modernist
style, giving his sister some opportunities
for some amazing pianism.
"Aki 2.2" is a contemporary
fantasia on the Magical Mystery Tour.
The original material is very much in
the background here, with Sakamoto’s
modernism to the fore giving Chitose
Okashiro free reign artistically and
The final piece on
the disc is a short, original piece
by Michel Block - a charming miniature
which was specially written for the
Chitose Okashiro is
a fine pianist, but I am really not
sure about the desirability of the repertoire
on this disc. Takemitsu apart, the composers
either add very little to the Beatles’
originals or overwhelm them with their
see also review
by Neil Horner