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Tomoko Mukaiyama plays Women Composers
Adriana HOLSZKY (b. 1953)
Horfenster fur Franz Liszt (1986-87) [14.28]
Vanessa LANN (b. 1968)
Inner Piece (1994) [7.43]
Galina USTVOLSKAYA (b. 1919)
Piano Sonata VI (1988) [7.30]
Sofia GUBAIDULINA (b. 1931)
Piano Sonata (1965) [19.42]
Meredith MONK (b. 1943)
Double Fiesta (1988) [6.05]
Tomoko Mukaiyama (piano)
Recorded at Studio Hilversum, August 1994
BVHAAST CD 9406 [55.59]


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I assume the cover picture is of Tomoko Mukaiyama herself – hair askew and naked from the waist up, half turned to the viewer, mildly confrontational. She espouses five works by five women composers and some of them share this stark aesthetic – though not all.

Hungarian composer Adriana Hölszky deliberately asks for an out of tune piano – and it sounds prepared as well in places – for her flurried and daemonic Lisztian tribute. Liszt is largely absent from the first part where the bordello piano encompasses the rictus and the static. In part two there is a degree of syncopation and some shouts from the pianist – one assumes scripted – before percussive wooden tattoos are beaten out on the piano’s body and some refracted Lisztian quotations emerge.

Vanessa Lann’s aesthetic differs totally from this confrontational stance. Her Inner Piece may be a bad pun but it makes for better music. It’s a toccata, and it rolls into a boogie-woogie excitingly, treble flecking drama tinged with bop traces. Soon a pop tune evolves, drizzled with upper voiced delicacy – intricate and attractive. It’s played with commendable evenness of articulation.

The senior composer here, Galina Ustvolskaya’s Sonata dates from 1998 and is a gruff and gimlet work. Insistent chordal clusters predominate, stealthy blackness alongside musing single lines; a Shostakovich-like mordancy predominates. It’s an intense, unforgiving work.

The Sonata of Sofia Gubaidulina is by some way the earliest of the quintet of works and dates from 1965. Broadly tonal but once more insistent this manages to generate an inexorable swing from about 8’00 in the long first movement. Oscillating between dramatic flourish and more limpid reflective material the central movement encapsulates a powerful internal drama whilst the last movement, whilst gruelling, also seems to flirt with boogie rhythms.

Finally we arrive at Meredith Monk’s Double Fiesta. The pianist plays a simple accompaniment to her own wordless vocal – ecstatic curlicues and whoops run throughout, the shamanistic drug of the vocal exerting a strong pull. And a delightful way to end a recital that proves, on and off, tough going.

Jonathan Woolf





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