Monday 26 January 2015

Mari Kodama's box reviewed by ResMusica

"She lets Beethoven's music slide into timelessness"

« Time was the greatest gift » These are the words of Mari Kodama as she presents her cycle of Beethoven Sonatas, a project that she took ten years to complete.  There is no doubt that ‘time’ in the career of an international artist is a ‘gift’:  time for the music-lover, who slowly absorbs the language and the fascinating newness of each of the thirty-two sonatas;  time for the admirer, who takes care to note the early flashes of Beethoven’s genius, while observing, page after page, the developing maturity; time at the beginning and by the end places him in the great universe while also reaching touching the senses.

In each of the recordings that are contained in this elegant box set, the listener can also appreciate the time taken by the pianist, the time she dedicated to the ten hours of music included here. Each note, each phrase is balanced, not with maniacal precision, but with the thrill of inspiration that creates coherence in the cycle. From the joyous Opus 2 to the majesty of Opus 111, Mari Kodama deploys playing of an impeccable clarity, in which every second illustrates the level of development of her musical vision.

Among the many qualities of this interpretation, two stand out in particular: first, the tempi, the importance of which is never denied. At first,  some strike the ear, more accustomed to an automatic reaction that is almost a caricature – but none cast her particular approach into doubt. Mari Kodama’s sincerity of choice ends by convincing us.  Second, the pianist never avoids harsh sounds – these ‘imperfections’ of detail that are completely Beethovian – nor does she look to exaggerate them: the colours she obtains recall as much Haydn (the simple expressiveness of Opus 26) as Stravinsky (the attacks in the ‘Hammerklavier”). Mari Kodama does not enclose Beethoven in an “Épinal” romanticism, but lets his music, this prodigy of history, slide into timelessness. 

Read the full article in French on ResMusica