A Piano Recital by Peter Miyamoto = BACH: Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue in D Minor; BERG: Piano Sonata; BEETHOVEN: Piano Sonata No. 30 in E Major; RAVEL: Jeux d’eau; CHOPIN: Scherzo No. 3 in C-sharp Minor – Blue Griffin

by | Jun 20, 2014 | Classical CD Reviews

A Piano Recital by Peter Miyamoto = BACH: Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue in D Minor, BWV 903; BERG: Piano Sonata, Op. 1; BEETHOVEN: Piano Sonata No. 30 in E Major, Op. 109; RAVEL: Jeux d’eau; CHOPIN: Scherzo No. 3 in C-sharp Minor, Op. 39 – Peter Miyamoto, piano – Blue Griffin BGR335, 60:00 [Distr. by Albany] ****: 

The serious intent of this recital by Peter Miyamoto (rec. 25-26 March 2012) establishes itself at the outset, with passionate scalar runs from Bach’s D Minor Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue, which no less display the sonorous character of Miyamoto’s Steinway D. The recitativo passages extend the improvisatory argument, an elegantly taut line that connects the toccata elements of the writing. Strong trills and strong landings proceed and prepare us for the immense fugue that mixes eleven appearances of the theme with episodes that barely provide relief from the learned passions that unfold. Miyamoto treats the first statement rather intimately, building his clear lines and layerings with stratified application of keyboard colors and a fluent trill.  Whatever resonance in the bass that that Bach transfers from his organ writing has remained boldly prevalent without having become ostentatious, an intelligent, ardent reading.

The 1908 Sonata by Alban Berg (in a tentative B Minor) immediately provides a rich color contrast to the Bach, although Miyamoto treats its askew chromaticism with a degree of warmth befitting a meandering nocturne. Often, the harmonies claim a kinship with Scriabin, moving through whole tones and intervals that moodily glide around fourths and fifths. The bass line often suggests Brahms, but the tenor of the melodic line keeps exploring a post-Tristan, wayward lack of resolution that absorbs a dark sensibility beholden to late Liszt.  An amalgam of styles and influences, the Sonata offers a nervous moment of repose in this recital.

Fine pearly play from Miyamoto opens Beethoven’s 1820 Sonata No. 30 in E Major, that masterpiece of musical concision and plastic drama. Miyamoto does not dawdle with the terse fragments of melody in sixteenths that moves to a delicately wrought chorale (Andante espessivo), ending with a descending, run-arpeggio.  The suspended last chord thrusts us into the E Minor Prestissimo, which Miyamoto infuses with brilliant, driven, contrapuntal propulsion interrupted by exalted musing. Both learned and passionate, this multiple-voiced movement enjoys a fluent motor power that contrasts dramatically with the opening of the grand song that provides the huge last movement. The expansive statement of the theme by Miyamoto allows him a broad canvas for his variations, clearly having had Bach’s Goldberg Aria as his model. The fleet passages, on the other hand, reveal that bravura temper of the honest virtuoso. That Miyamoto can well express innigkeit (inwardness) in his playing of Beethoven’s+emotionally cosmic eddies should make him an exceptional Schumann acolyte.

Ravel’s 1901 Jeux d’eau remains a seminal opus in Ravel’s evolving style, taken as it is from the water-music of Franz Liszt. The fluent motion of water spray and sparkling fountains simultaneously imbibes, through Miyamoto’s potent touch, the clarion resonance of bells, so the piece connect as well to Miroirs as to his Ondine from the Gaspard de la Nuit suite. Sergei Svitko and his assistant Vitaly Serebriakov deserve full credit for Miyamoto’s luscious piano tone in Ravel. Lastly, Miyamoto plays the blazing Scherzo No. 3 of Chopin (1839). I perpetually recall Artur Rubinstein’s quip upon hearing Saint-Saens perform this piece, the latter’s favorite of the scherzos: “It was impeccably note-perfect but too fast.” Miyamoto certainly commands the double octaves, but he gives a noble scope to the luxurious chorale and its cascading filigree. This dignified elegance aligns Miyamoto’s conception with several of my own favorite readings by Rubinstein, Moravec, and Wild. Miyamoto manages his transitions between sections with forthright motive power tempered by his innate sense of the poetic Chopin rhetoric, without which this composer cannot communicate successfully.

—Gary Lemco

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