Thursday, December 29, 2011

Before the New Year arrives...

Hi everyone. I'm sorry I haven't updated my blog for a long time!

I had quite busy schedule from the beginning of October until middle December.
Well, I had so many wonderful experiences in each venue and would have loved to share them here, but I didn't have enough time and energy. (when it comes to write something, i'm quite slow...(-_-;))
After I came back home 10 days ago, I've been just lazy, and now I feel so guilty, so I will try to write my important experiences of the last three months one by one, maybe a month by an article. Please be patient!

Also I would like to apologize that there was a major problem with my official website early this month that some people couldn't access at all. My web master put the state back to the previous one, even before I updated many sections of the site. So it shows some old information and many things should be updated again. We will try to do it as soon as possible.

In Japan (maybe as many other countries), we have a tradition to clean the whole house before the end of the year in order to welcome the pleasant new year. Although I'm living in Germany, I try to follow the Japanese tradition as well.

In the meantime, I wish you all happy holidays and a wonderful new year 2012, may it be peaceful, successful and full of beautiful music and love! d(^_^d)


P.S. Here are some new video clips of my piano playing on youtube. Enjoy!
(extracts of my recital "Etudes Li..." on November 16th at the Hamarikyu Asahi Hall in Tokyo)

Liszt : La Campanella
Liszt : La Leggierezza
Liszt : Waldesrauschen
Liszt : Feux Follets
Liapounov : Rondo des Sylphes

Thursday, November 24, 2011

24 hours in Ishinomaki

On November 17th, the day after my recital in Tokyo, I visited Ishinomaki, where the Tsunami occurred last March. My former teacher at the high school in Tokyo, Mr.Matsuda, was helping the victims in Ishinomaki as a volunteer, and got involved with the Minato primary school, which was used as a place of refuge for several months. Because the school was occupied by refugees and needed some repairs, the school rented some rooms in a junior high school of the same town and reopened. Many of the children and the teachers lost their relatives, friends or their houses, so they needed good mental care. Mr. Matsuda founded an organization to support the school and the children until they move back to its original place.
As he loves music, he asked me to come over to perform for the school children and particiapte in the school for a whole day.

When I arrived in Ishinomaki about 4pm, it was still slightly light. The area around the station seemed pretty much recovered, and I could barely tell that the Tsunami had reached there. However, when Mr.Matsuda took me to the harbour area, the view turned miserable and sad. According to Mr.Matsuda some of the houses still remain completely broken, because all the family members died after the Tsunami, and there is no successor. Many of the factories were also untouched or under the reconstruction. I froze speechless when I saw the beautiful sunset on the harbour and the mountains of tiles, stones and broken cars along the coast.
On the way to the apartment, where I was supposed to sleep, we saw a music store and dropped by. They had also had big damage from the Tsunami and had reopened in August. When Mr.Matsuda told the owner that I was a pianist, he welcomed me warmly and showed me the piano, which was reconstructed after being completely covered by the dirt of the Tsunami. As he insisted, I played on it. („Liebestraum (Love's dream)“ by Liszt) Surprisingly the piano had a good action and a beautiful deep sound! While I was playing, I felt the solid vitality and the soul of the instrument (as if the piano was talking to me...), so tears came into my eyes. In fact all those present were crying at the end.

Then the owner showed me the photos of the piano since Tsunami. More than 20 people (coming from various places of Japan) volunteered for the reconstruction, and it took 6 months to finish it. When it's done, they did a concert with the piano in the Minato primary school, and apparently it became the center of interest in the town, and some media (including TV) reported it. Mr.Matsuda also told me lots of beautiful stories about pianos. When he found a piano under the supplies boxes in the Minato school, he rescued the instrument and played it after the work. The refugees often gathered around piano and enjoyed playing and listening to piano music. Then people from outside also came to play on the piano, as their pianos were not in good shape. Also Mr. Matsuda saw some upright pianos standing on the street in the stricken area short after the Tsunami, while the houses and most of the furniture were destroyed. (Indeed, the frame of piano is quite strong!) So „piano“ has been a special meaning to the local people in Ishinomaki.

The next day, I got up at 6:30 am and had a breakfast with instant bread and coffee. There was no warm water, so I heated cold water and wiped my body. Then we went to Minato primary school and met some children, who were getting on the bus.
I usually like children and enjoy talking and playing with them, but this time, I didn't know how I could behave with them, so I was just quiet in the bus. But a boy of the senior class (12 years old) came and sat next to me. And he looked at my name tag and asked me „are you from Tokyo?“, then we started chatting. I told him that I was going to play piano at the 4th period, he said „I can also play piano.“ then he continued „I like Rhapsody in Blue, which was used in the „Nodame Cantabile“ (very popular manga -TV drama series-film in Japan, worth checking out!), and practicing for a while, but the music score was carried away by Tsunami...“ Then I lost my words for a second... if I had the same situation when I was 12 years old and lost all my music, I could have been as sad as I lost my relatives and friends. But the boy continued talking calmly.

After we arrived the school, Mr.Matsuda showed me around in the building, and we attended the morning meeting in the gymnasium. There were about 20 people in each Grade, and I was told to attend the senior class, so I was sitting at the end of the line. After the principal introduced me, some children talked to me in a friendly way, then I soon opened up to them. At the end of the meeting, they had a traditional event and did skipping rope and competed between Grades. Believe it or not, I did it, too! (as I belonged to the athletic club in the High school, I have confidence in my legs ;o)) We (6th Grade) lost to the 5th Grade, but I didn't let down my team when my turn came and had much fun!

The classes were held normally. Mr.Matsuda told me that my job was to support children who don't follow the lesson well. I tried to do my best, but it turned out toward the end that I was just talking with a few children on various subjects! But there were things I learnt from that moment as well.
None of the children told me about their sad background, stories of Tsunami. They were very curious about my life in Germany and as a pianist. Later on Mr.Matsuda said „they just don't want to talk about sad things. It means that their wound is that deep...“.

After rehearsing one hour I gave a small concert in the music room. Although I had given a program to Mr. Matsuda, I changed it while I was rehearsing. So I started with by Bach as a prayer to the victims of Tsunami and the peace, then Chopin's , Liszt , Mizokami , Poulenc , and played short version of by Gershwin, as the story of the boy gave me a strong impression and I wanted to give him a little present.
I talked about the composers, the pieces, my episodes, etc, and had warm applause and gratitude from the audience. It was so cute when the kids went out the room, doing „high five“ with me and said „bye bye“ with a big smile!

I had a lunch with the first Grade kids, and had a joyful conversation with them. I was asked my age and said „guess how old I am.“, then received the answers between „20“ and „38“!!
After attending two classes in the afternoon, I saw the children off in front of the school and accomplished my „mission“. All the teachers thanked me cordially, and I left Ishinomaki around 5pm.

In contrast to the night before, I had rather much positive emotion on that day. I really appreciated all the efforts of the teachers and the support members gave. I shall never forget the cheerful laughter and the twinkling eyes of the children and wish them all the best for their life.

Monday, October 31, 2011

To the 200th anniversary of F.Liszt

This month I devoted myself to playing Liszt’s music and thinking of him as he was born in October, 200 years ago. I was glad to perform in France and Germany, where Liszt lived at various times and achieved so much as a musician.

It was so nice to be back in Angoulême, where I played in 2005 and 2006. The official pianos of the festival have been  provided and maintained by Mr.Gérard Fauvin. He looks and talks like a comedian (what a joyful character he's got!), and it's been always a pleasure to work with him.  He kindly wrote an article about me and my recital in his blog (in French).

I was also honored to play at the Hungarian Institut in Paris on the occasion of the Liszt anniversary, and even more honored to replace Mr.Georg Sava (a
Romanian pianist and professor at the Berlin Hans Eisler Music School) for the special concert on the birthday of Liszt in the Schloss Ribbeck!
Ribbeck is about 50km away from Berlin, and the concert was scheduled at 4pm, so I decided to make a day trip with a couple of friends by car. It was a lovely weather, and we enjoyed being in the beautiful and peaceful place!

Schloss Ribbeck

a tree colored by the sunshine, in front of the castle

On the 27th, I visited one of the most important cities for Liszt, Weimar, for the first time. I arrived Weimar at 1pm and took a train at 9:30 pm, so it was quite hectic but meaningful to me.

First I went to VillaAltenburg, where Liszt and Carolyne von Wittgenstein lived together between 1848 and 1860, and Liszt composed a number of his major works. It is also the place, where the « unreasonable agreement » was made between Carolyne and her husband, Russian officier, Prince Nicolas von Wittgenstein in 1852. (In my opinion, this occurrence must have provoked Liszt to compose « Ab Irato »)
It was inspiring to be in the room, where Liszt used to work and play the piano.  They were also exhibiting some valuable documents about Liszt such as manuscripts of his sketches. The Villa was open until 31st of October, so I was lucky to be there in time!

Then I visited Schlossmuseum, Schiller-Museum and Liszt Haus. The Shlossmuseum had an exhibition of antique pianos from 18th, 19th century) and the Schiller Museum had a wonderful exhibition of Liszt. I thought that by visiting this exhibition anyone could understand Liszt's life and appreciate how great he was . I was specially fascinated to see all the gifts that Liszt was offered after giving concerts. As I had read the stories in his biography, I recognized some of them (medals, jewelry, often sculptures of Liszt's face!).

Taken in front of the Schlossmuseum
Liszt house was a revelation to me; the size is even less than half of Altenburg, and apparently he used only the upper floor (he lived partly between 1869 and 1886). Everything seemed so simple and it confirmed that Liszt was a humble man. There was his piano (Bechstein), and they do occasionally concerts, but sadly I was not allowed to play on it. 

I then ran to the Musikhochschule to hear the second round of the Liszt Piano Competition. I heard three pianists who played different programs and showed individual interpretation of works by Liszt, Haydn and Michael Jarrell (commissioned piece).

I was fulfilled with my day and took the train, then I realized I made a big mistake...

I left the big poster of Liszt portrait in a Turkish fast food restaurant! 

 (- -') sigh...

Sunday, September 11, 2011

10 years after...

Today is the 10th anniversary since the September 11th attacks, and I would like to express my sincere sympathy for the victims of the tragedy with the following performance.

At that time I didn't have many friends in New York nor even in the USA, but the terrible images shown on TV broke my heart and frightened me for many days. I still remember clearly that time, because it was a week after I started living in Paris.

I had just turned 19 and was totally inexperienced and ignorant in terms of "living alone" in addition to not being fluent in French, but I had to find an apartment, open a bank account, get a visa, register at the Conservatoire, all by myself. As I had so many difficulties in everything, I thought my life was going to collapse at some point!

Actually, before I left Japan, my father had told me the following:
"if you can't achieve any success on your piano within the next two years, you will have to give up your dream to be a professional pianist and come back to Japan to study something else!"

I don't think I gave a clear answer to it, because I really didn't want to give up my dream, but I often remembered his words in my head, so I forced myself to go forward whatever the problems were and gave all my energy to studying the music and absorbing all that I learned and experienced in my new surroundings.

And at the end of the "two years", I went to the Cleveland Competition -it was my second experience of entering in a big international piano competition- and I won the 1st my great surprise!

Suddenly my life changed completely and I started a concert career, remaining a student at the Paris Conservatoire. I confronted some difficulties at the beginning (frequent traveling, different manners and conditions of concert organisation, the vast repertoire I had to learn, concert reviews, etc), but the beautiful encounters and the emotional moments that I had in each place became my good fortune and encouraged me a lot.

When I think of these last 10 years, I can't help but feel very lucky and happy, and say how grateful I am to all people who have supported me and inspired me.

I will keep giving my efforts to make beautiful and magical moments with the music and going on my way with the motto
"一期一会(Ichi-go ichi-e)".

Thank you.
Kotaro Fukuma

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Reviews of the concert in Annecy

Voici les critiques sur mon concert à Annecy.
(English translation below)

Concert Classic

... le Japonais Kotaro Fukuma (29 ans) est une boule de feu qui enflamme le public dans un programme Liszt abouti. Outre une vélocité à bousculer les montagnes (La Chasse, Ronde des Lutins), il fait preuve d’un sens musical sans faille (La Campanella, Un Sospiro) et d’une fluidité sonore accordée à l’esprit des œuvres.
- Michel Le Naour

... Le pianiste nippon dévoile une sincérité et une délicatesse certaines. Les tableaux se juxtaposent en une fresque pastel. La démonstration technique se mêle à l’inspiration poétique dans les Trois Etudes S 144. La Grande Etude de perfectionnement «Ab irato» se caractérise par une carrure frôlant la rudesse. Fukuma réserve les miroitements de lumière aux Deux Etudes S 145, avant de faire éclater la pyrotechnie de deux des Grandes Etudes de Paganini. Le public est conquis par sa sensibilité.
- Gilles Charlassier

...Japanese pianist Kotaro Fukuma (29 years of age) played a thoroughly accomplished Liszt programme with an inner fire which enthused his audience. Besides his astounding virtuosity (La chasse, Ronde des Lutins) he proved to be a flawless musician (La Campanella, Un Sospiro), always choosing from a vast range of colours the best suited to each piece.

...The Japanese pianist played with utter sincerity and delicacy of feeling. The [Liszt] pieces followed each other as so many juxtaposed scenes in a pastel fresco. Technical virtuosity went hand in hand with poetic inspiration in the three Etudes S 144. The Grande Etude de Perfectionnement Ab irato was rendered with pianistic might appropriately tinged with the roughness of anger. Fukuma suffused the two Etudes S 145 with shimmering light, before projecting a display of pyrotechnics in the two Grandes Etudes de Paganini. His musical sensitivity totally won over the public.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Annecy Classic Festival

I just came back home from Annecy, where I had a lot of wonderful and beautiful experiences!

On August 29th, I played in the concert "Nuit du Piano" at the Annecy Classic Festival, which featured 4 young pianists -Khatia Buniatishvili, Ingolf Wunder, Hyo-Joo Lee and me. It was a great honor for me to share the concert with them and to play in the Imperial Palace again, which is just by the beautiful lake! The last time was back in the Summer 2003, a week after winning the Cleveland Competition. That was a quite special concert for me, but this time was even more special, because it was my 29th birthday and the last concert before the 10th anniversary of my life in Europe! (I arrived in Paris on September 3rd, 2001)

You can watch the performance here after the free registration (name, email address, the place you are).

I stayed until the end of the festival and enjoyed the environment, making excursions to the lake and to the Mont Blanc - Chamonix with some friends. As the weather was just perfect, the shimmering water and the magnificent Alps enchanted me the whole time!

The last two concerts of the festival were held in the Église Sainte Bernadette and featured the St.Petersbourg Philharmonic Orchestra with Maestro Yuri Temirkanov. Their performance of the Tschaikovsky 5th Symphony was absolutely one of my most profound musical experiences and the climax of my Summer 2011!!

Bravo to all the artists & thank you to the Annecy Classic Festival and its enthusiastic audience!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Broadcast of my performances

Today I would like to inform the upcoming broadcast of my live perforamances.

1. Deutschland Kultur Radio
WHEN: Monday August 22nd at 8:03p.m.
WHAT: Young Euro Classic Festival (Konzerthaus Berlin)
PROGRAM: Bach/ Piano Concerto in A major with Youth Orchestra of Americas & the conductor Felipe Hildargo
HOW: Go to this page and select one of the streaming systems (Flash, WMP, OGG, MP3) in the right side of the page. The broadcast will automatically start when the file is opened properly.

2. Medici.TV
WHEN: Monday August 29th at 7:30p.m.
WHAT: A piano evening with Khatia Buniatishvili, Ingolf Wunder, Hyo-Joo Lee at the Annecy Music Festival
PROGRAM: Buniatishvili (Liszt), Wunder (Chopin), Lee (Chopin, Ravel), Fukuma (Liszt - Trois Études de Concert, Ab Irato, Deux Études de Concert, La Chasse, La Campanella)
HOW: Go to this page and subscribe either Classic+ or Classic. Go to the page "Live" at the time of the broadcast schedule, then you can watch the entire concert in live!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Kritik vom Konzert in Berlin (Bach Klavierkonzert)

Hier sind die Auszüge der Kritiken über das Konzert vom Konzerthaus Berlin, in dem ich das Bach Klavierkonzert mit dem YOA Orchester gespielt habe.

...Bachs Klavierkonzert A-Dur BWV 1055, gespielt von dem fabelhaften jungen Japaner Kotaro Fukuma, der sich am Ende dann noch mit einer Franz-Liszt-Zugabe selbst übertraf.
- Berliner Morgenpost (18.08)

...Der Chilene Felipe Hidalgo erweist sich als partnerschaftlicher Begleiter des Japaners Kotaro Fukuma, ChopinPreisträger von 2003, der seine Schule der Geläufigkeit in den Allegros des Klavierkonzerts BWV 1055 von Bach tanzen lässt.
- Der Tagesspiegel (19.08)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The FIFA Women's World Cup

The last Sunday, the final match of the FIFA Women's World Cup was held in Frankfurt. I watched it on TV with about 15 friends (including 10 Japanese) in a cafe in Berlin, and we all cheered the Japanese team. Each time the chance and the pinch came, we screamed so loud that the other customers and the waiters were frightened and even the cooks came out of the kitchen!

During the last PK, we held hands each other, forming a circle around the table and sending our spiritual energy... And our wish came true!!

It was the greatest and most emotional football match I had ever seen, and I was fascinated to see how the Japanese team held their toughness and natural self until the last moment of the match. Actually the members saw the video of the Japanese disaster the before the final match and agreed to fight for the victims. So this victory has a lot of meaning to us Japanese.

I would like to thank the Japanese female football team for their wonderful play and their strong and humble attitude throughout the whole event!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Review of my Liszt CD

Here is the review of my Liszt CD in Musical Opinion.

Mostly these have been recorded before, including by some great pianists, but Fukuma, winner of several international prizes, adds an extreme rarity, Ab Irato. Its impetuous, almost violent staccato triplets sound as angry as the Latin title implies and it was written for the 1840 Fétis and Moscheles Méthode de Méthodes - to which Chopin contributed his Trois Nouv- elles Etudes. But Liszt, as so very often, revised and in this case slightly expanded, and it is the 1852 version, with its hint of Les Préludes, that Fukuma gives us, playing with exactly the right degree of unconquerable fervour.

He is equally though differently impressive in another comparative rarity, ll Lamento, first of the Trois Etudes. This starts like a duo for soprano and tenor voices, then soprano alone, then two sopranos; then it is just the keyboard and Liszt's pianistic ingenuity and nobility of expression here make the item's neglect inexcusable. It is indeed more dramatic and varied than its two companion pieces, La Leggierezza and Un Sospiro, although Fukuma shapes these with the most sensitive rubato.

He does equally well amid the woodland spells of Waldesrauschen and the fantastic legerdemain of Gnomenreigen, which leaves us mainly with the Paganini Etudes, of which he plays the 1851 revision, not the over-elaborated 1838 originals. These in fact open the programme and the beautiful evenness of the tremolos in all registers of the G minor piece suggests the quality of pianism we are going to hear. No.2 is as immaculate as any reading I have heard, delivered with all necessary force when needed and with verve throughout. Perhaps Fukuma does not make the perdendosi of the final bars of No.5 quite so affecting as Kentner did in his 1949 recording (Pearl GEM0148) yet the grace and scintillating delicacy of La Campanella are extraordinary.

Rapsodie espagnole is another transcendental essay yet seems an anticlimax after the high concentration of all the etudes. Also it is somewhat over-extended for its thematic material, there being a degree of virtuoso inflation on Liszt's part here. Yet this is another heroic performance by Fukuma.

By Max Harrison

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Arthur Rubinstein International Master Piano Competition

This month I took part in the Arthur Rubinstein International Master Piano Competition in Tel Aviv and won the 6th Prize as well as the Prize for the best performer of the Israeli composition! I enjoyed all the stages, encounters and experiences during the competition. I was especially delighted to perform the Brahms 2nd concerto with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and Maestro Asher Fisch at the final stage.

You can watch all the performances of the competition here.
(Select the stage -the name of the performer -the piece) or on Youtube.

You can also see many photos of the competition on facebook.

I would like to thank all the people who supported me and listened to my performances during the competition. It was one of the most wonderful experiences in my life!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Charity Concert for the Japan disaster relief

Last night, I gave a solo recital in Berlin as a charity for the Japan disaster relief. The idea came up from my elder sister, who has been staying in Berlin for five weeks with her children, and recently decided to stay another month in Europe because of the situation in Japan. Some other friends of mine also sent me kind messages, so I was much encouraged and motivated to do such a thing.

On Wednesday night (16th), I sent an email to the owner of the Piano Salon Christophori, Christoph Schreiber, asking if he could organize a charity concert. He called me the next morning and immediately said “We must do it! I've already talked to a few people who could help us for the organization. Send me your program as soon as possible!” So we decided the date and the program, making the advertisement and sent out the information by email, putting information in various websites on the same day (Thursday).

Although we had only 4 days to advertise, many people helped for the advertisement, and I was very touched by the quick and kind reaction of people during the course of preparation.

The Piano Salon Christophori is a piano atelier in Berlin-Wedding (it moved from Prenzlauerberg last year), which has a concert series of piano recital and chamber music, using their antique pianos. I had already played in the Salon about 5 times, and enjoy its casual atmosphere, the unusual and charming pianos (for me) and the public's attention.

When I played the last time (May 29th on the occasion of the both Albeniz's birth- and Balakirev's death anniversary), there were about 120 people. So I was hoping to have about 100 people this time.

Then, I had a great surprise at the concert. There were about 170 people in the audience! I played the works by Bach, Chopin, Liszt and Takemitsu. At the end of the last piece of my program, Litany by Takemitsu, there was a perfect silence lasted more than 30 was a very intense and peaceful moment.

As an ancore, I offered the public a "surprise". I accompanied my sister and her children singing a Japanese song “Furusato (hometown)” along with my friend of Bariton singer, Vitaly Yushmanov. Apparently the public enjoyed so much that they gave us a standing ovation and didn't stop clapping for a while. I think it was an emotional moment for all the people who were there.

Even after offering such a nice present to the audience, the children didn't finish their job. They had to collect the donation from the audience and give them a famous “crane origami” made by themselves.

Finaly we were all surprised by the total amount of donation, which was far beyond our expectation! The amount was 3330 EUR (plus a few Turkish would make it maybe 3333!). I added 50 EUR from my CD sale to it, so I will send the amount of 3380 EUR to the German Red Cross. I will put the certificate on this page later on.

I would like to thank all the people who supported the charity concert and donated generously for Japan. I really hope it will help some people who are still suffering and in great need of help.

Vielen herzlichen Dank für Ihre Unterstützung für Japan! Ich hoffe sehr, dass es einigen Leuten in meinem Heimatland hilft, die immer noch leiden und große Hilfe zum leben brauchen.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Benefizkonzert für die Katastrophenhilfe in Japan

Die schlimmen Ereignisse in letzter Zeit in Japan bereiten mir sehr große Sorge, und ich habe Mitleid mit den Menschen, die unter dieser Katastrophe leiden.

Seit einigen Tagen habe ich nach Möglichkeiten gesucht, wie ich ein wenig Hilfe leisten kann und habe mich entschieden ein Benefizkonzert in Berlin zu veranstalten. Gestern Abend habe ich Christoph Schreiber, Inhaber des Salons Christopheri, gefragt, ob es möglich wäre. Innerhalb kürzester Zeit haben wir einen Termin für dieses Konzert gefunden.

Wir möchten Sie herzlich zu diesem Klavierabend einladen und hoffen auf Ihre großzügige Unterstützung.

Die Konzertdetails:

Benefizkonzert für die Katastrophenhilfe in Japan
Kotaro Fukuma – Klavierabend <Gebet für Japan>

福間洸太朗 ピアノリサイタル <被災地への祈りをこめて>

Datum: Montag 21.03.2011 um 20.30Uhr
Ort: Der Piano Salon Christophori, Uferhallen, Uferstr.8, Remise, 13357 Berlin
(U8 Pankstr., Osloer Str., U9 Nauener Platz)
Christoph Schreiber, 0176 – 3900 7753,

Das Programm:
Johann Sebastian Bach
- 1.Contrapunctus aus der Kunst der Fuge BWV 1080
Toru Takemitsu
- Pieces for Children (1. Breeze, 2.Clouds) (1979), Litany II (1989)
Frédéric Chopin
- Nocturne Nr.13 c-moll op.48-1, Ballade Nr.4 f-moll op.52
Franz Liszt
- Il Lamento, La Leggierezza, Un Sospiro, La Campanella, Liebestraum Nr.3

Der Spendenerlös dieses Abends wird durch das Rote Kreuz nach Japan geschickt. Ich wäre sehr dankbar, wenn Sie recht zahlreich an diesem Benefizkonzert teilnehmen und mein Heimatland unterstützen würden!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Articles in British magazines

Here are a couple of other reviews on my recital at Wigmore Hall.

Musical Opinion

International Piano (Quarterly)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Carnegie Debut Recital in December!

The New York Concert Artists & Associates selected me to perform in the Carnegie Hall (Weill Recital Hall) this December, after auditioning about 70 pianists in New York City, Paris and Seoul.

It is a great pleasure and honor for me to perform in New York 8 years after my debut at Lincoln Center (Alice Tully Hall) and at the Carnegie Hall for the first time!

On this honorable occasion, I will play some Bach's art of fugue, Beethoven Op.110, and some fantastic Etudes by Liszt, Ligeti and Lyapunov to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Liszt.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Crítica de Zaragoza

Aquí la critica de mi ultimo concierto en Zaragoza (5 estrellas!)

Un joven con mucha edad (Heraldo de Aragón, 11 de febrero)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Klavierabend zum 150.Jubiläum der deutsch-japanischen Freundschaft

Heute möchte ich mein nächstes Konzert in Berlin ankündigen.

Anlässlich des 150-jährigen Jubiläums der Freundschaft zwischen Deutschland und Japan führe ich einen Klavierabend mit deutschen und japanischen Werken auf. Es ist mir eine große Ehre und Freude, wieder im Konzerthaus auftreten zu können. Für diese Gelegenheit habe ich berühmte und wichtige Komponisten beider Länder ausgewählt und ein besonderes Programm zusammengestellt. Jedes dieser Werke eröffnet sowohl einen tiefen Einblick in die unterschiedlichen Schönheiten der Musik beider Länder, als auch in die Seelen und Charaktere dieser Komponisten.

Datum: Samstag, 12. Februar 2011, 20Uhr
Ort: Konzerthaus Berlin Kleiner Saal (Gendarmenmarkt, 10117 Berlin)
Programm :
Robert Schumann / Novelletten Op.21 Nr.1, 2, und 8
Ludwig van Beethoven / Sonate Nr.31 As-dur Op.110
Joji Yuasa (1929-) / Subliminal Hey J. (1990, Deutsche Uraufführung)
Toru Takemitsu (1930-1996) / For Away (1973)
Toshio Hosokawa (1955-) / Nacht Klänge (1968)
Mutsuo Shishido (1929-2007) / Suite pour le Clavier (1968)

Ticket : 20 Euro / 14 Euro, 10% Ermäßigung für Berechtigte
Tickets an allen bekannten VVK-Stellen,
unter und unter 030-203 09 21 01

Zum Programm:
Im Alter von 21 Jahren habe ich meine erste kommerzielle CD eingespielt - Schumanns „Novelletten“. Wie der Titel suggeriert, handelt es sich um "kleine Geschichten", mit denen Schumann seiner Geliebten Clara auf romantische Art und Weise vom Alltag erzählt.

Beethovens Sonate Op.110 ist meine Lieblings- und vielleicht seine schönste Klaviersonate. Während man im gesamten Verlauf des Werkes viele Aspekte der Menschlichkeit und Heiligkeit erlebt, nimmt uns das grandiose Finale mit in eine andere Dimension.

Yuasa war ein Kollege von Takemitsu im Kreis der japanischen Musikavantgarde Jikken-Kobo.
"Subliminal Hey J." wurde komponiert für das Aufnahmeprojekt der japanischen Pianistin Aki Takahashi. Sie ließ elf avantgardistische Komponistenfreunde - einschließlich Toru Takemitsu, John Cage, Frederic Rzewski - Beatleslieder aus dem Lennon-McCartney Songbook auf experimentelle Weise bearbeiten.
Yuasa hat das Lied "Hey Jude" ausgewählt und den Titel auf witzige Weise mit seinem eigenen Vornamen (Joji) kombiniert.

Takemitsu ist der berühmteste japanische Komponist des 20. Jahrhunderts. Er selbst hat Musik studiert und wurde durch viele verschiedene musikalische Stile beeinflusst, unter anderem Wiener Klassik, die französische Schule, japanische traditionelle Musik, Jazz und Filmmusik. "For Away" schrieb er kurz nach seiner Reise durch Indonesien, wo er zum ersten Mal die balinesische Gamelan-Musik gehört hatte. Von ihrer Schönheit und ihrem philosophischen Konzept war er sofort begeistert.

Der Name Hosokawa ist heutzutage in der Musikwelt so häufig anzutreffen, wie der Takemitsus, da er von wichtigen Festivals als Gast-Komponist eingeladen wird und Werke für erstklassige Musiker und Orchester schreibt. Seine Musik ist im Wesentlichen von japanischer traditioneller Kunst beeinflusst. Obwohl der Titel "Nacht Klänge" eine ruhige Musik erwarten lässt, erlebt man spannungsgeladene, ungewöhnliche Klänge, welche teilweise auf eine sehr extravagante Art und Weise im Korpus-Inneren des Flügels erzeugt werden, eingebettet in unerwartete, rhythmisch-freie Pausen.

Shishido hat in Paris mit Olivier Messiaen und André Jolivet studiert. Die "Suite pour le clavier" hat eine ungewöhnliche Struktur (Toccata-Adagio-Toccata II), aber zeigt so besonders eindringlich die japanische Seele, ihren Rhythmus und Virtuosität. Als ich dieses Werk bei meinem Debüt-Recital im Lincoln Center gespielt habe, beschrieb es die New York Times anschließend als "a real treat".

Ich würde mich sehr freuen, wenn Sie recht zahlreich an meinem Sonderkonzert in Berlin teilhaben!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Review of my recital in the Wigmore Hall

The Independent gave me 5 STARS for my Wigmore Hall recital!
Here is the review, which appeared on the 18th of January.

The guru principle holds good in Western classical music as it does in the music of the East. Kotaro Fukuma's programme note suggests he's collected a whole gallery of gurus: if he's drawn the key element from each, he should have crossed Leon Fleisher's Teutonic power with Aldo Ciccolini's Italian finesse, and Richard Goode's serene classicism with Maria Joao Pires's bold Romanticism; Mitsuko Uchida's fastidious intensity with Leslie Howard's virtuosity.

He opened his Wigmore recital with three of Schumann's Novelletten - pieces exploring the piano's texture, and pervaded by a curiously inward mood. Working on a large canvas, and with oils rather than watercolours, he gave each a vivid characterisation. His touch ranged from cantabile sweetness to sinewy muscularity, but there was no forcing of the music's fugitive emotions.

With Chopin's grandest Nocturne (in C minor) followed by his most majestic Ballade (in F minor), Fukuma then took things onto a more exalted plane. The opening of the Nocturne had an imperial spaciousness, with the arpeggiated chords being caressed rather than struck. The Ballade had a nobly singing tone, and its variations finally wound to a blaze of virtuoso magnificence. Perfectly judged and immaculate, this was playing such as one rarely encounters. Fukuma's physical relaxaion was reflected in his consistently beautiful sound.

Then, after using a silk handkerchief to wipe the sweat off the keys, he launched into Liszt, and into the empyrean. First came two concert studies, "Waldesrauschen" and "Gnomenreigen", and I have never heard the latter played with such velvet-pawed brilliance. Then came "Grande Etude de Perfectionnement" and six "Grandes Etudes de Paganini". These electrified Fukuma's packed audience much as Liszt and Paganini must have done theirs. As one finger-breaker followed another, and with his crossed hands moving like humming birds, he delivered this demonic music as though nothing could have been more natural. Everything had an airy lightness, and a bewitching beauty.

Then came three encores, by Liszt, Albeniz, and Chopin: the first and third exquisite, the second full of gutsy southern warmth.
A fabulous artist, and at 28 a prince among peers.

by Michael Church

Monday, January 17, 2011

My worst new year ever!?

I am sorry I have not updated my blog for some time.

I was very busy at the end of my stay in Japan, but I had a good time there with friends and family. I traveled in Kansai (Western Japan) and visited many beautiful and spiritual places. It was a precious experience for me. I wish I could have stayed for the New Year (正月 sho-gatsu) with my family in Japan, but I had to return to Europe to prepare for my recital in London.

As the Japanese proverb says: a misfortune happens when you least expect it...I encountered several unexpected misfortunes when I returned to Europe.
When I arrived home in Berlin on Dec. 27th, I found water had been leaking from the ceiling of my apartment because of heavy snow! I had to spend time shifting buckets, moving furniture and drying the floor until late night. The next day, someone came to repair the roof, but did not do a good job and the leaking started again after a couple of days break. In the meantime I came down with a cold and couldn't practice for three days.

The worst day was January 1st. I woke up at 7am (after about 4 hours sleep) because of the sound of a "waterfall" and found a stream in the living room...a nightmare!! I called some emergency numbers, but I could reach only the fire department. A fireman came and saw the miserable situation, then told me he could do nothing except to advise turning off the electricity and heating for safety. The roof was finally repaired properly in the late afternoon, but I couldn't stay at home without electricity and heating, so I moved to a friend's home, carrying valuable things. Fortunately the water leaking stopped the next day. You can not imagine how physically and mentally down I felt during this time.

I pulled myself together and flew to London on January 5th and my feelings immediately turned positive when I met some friends and finally could concentrate on my music and not on my series of Berlin disasters.

However, one more accident was to occur just before my performance. One of the hammers of the piano came off as the technician was regulating the voice (sound quality)! That happened at 6:55 pm, just 5 minutes before the doors were to open for the public! The technician and the hall managers ran downstairs, were able to get a hammer from another piano and repaired the concert piano within 15 minutes. The doors were opened at 7:18 pm while I was quickly checking the instrument!

If anyone wonders why I seemed happy on the stage during my performance even after that accident, it was because I was simply happy to perform in Wigmore Hall for the second time and to have such a big audience (nearly a full house!) and also because I had survived the series of misfortunes in Berlin before coming to London. After those experiences, nothing could give me any fear or stress. I was only motivated to enjoy the intense moment of the great music.

I want to thank everyone who supported me for this special concert. I hope to perform in London again in the near future!