Satoko Inoue: Satoko plays Japan in Claremont

Pianist Satoko Inoue, one of Japan’s leading interpreters of contemporary music, will perform works by renowned Japanese composer Jo Kondo together with new compositions by Yuji Itoh and Toshiya Watanabe and world premieres of works by Satoshi Tanaka and Yuka Shibuya.

Sunday, October 1, 7 p.m.
Drinkward Recital Hall

A one-quarter headshot of pianist Satoko Inoue who is sitting sideways with the left arm resting on the piano and supporting her head.
Satoko Inoue. Image Credit: Masaco Kondo.


Found Impression for piano (2022)
Yuka Shibuya

World Premiere

On a Winter Day (2018)
Toshiya Watanabe

Reminiscence (2023)
Satoshi Tanaka

World Premiere

Itsuwarinaki-Kokoro for solo piano (2015/2022)
Yuji Itoh


Sight Rhythmics (1975)
Jo Kondo

Three Winter Months (2019) 

Pomegranate (2020)

Found Impression for piano (2022) by Yuka Shibuya. This piece is the third in the "Found~" series that I have been composing for keyboard for the past few years. The concept of this "Found~" series is to reconsider what we have become accustomed to through sound or musical instruments. The first two works in this series are “Found Overtone” for prepared piano in 2020 and “Found Moment” for two pianos with a quarter tone difference in 2021. And now, "Found Impression" is what you are going to listen to today. This piece was originally composed for harpsichord solo. I hope you will listen to the premiere of this piece performed by the piano today. In this piece, the focus is most on decaying sound. By consciously listening to the fading moment of the sound in front of our eyes, we hope that the sound that appears as an afterimage within each listener will be awakened along with their memories. I would like to thank Satoko for giving the first performance of the piano version today. (YS)

On a Winter Day (2018) by Toshiya Watanabe. When you listen to both this piece and my other piano pieces, you may feel a little difference (though of course the taste must be the same, because the same composer composed it). I think this piece has a more polyphonic texture. Each line overlaps with various colors and the musical discourse progresses with hesitant repetitions.” On A Winter Day” was commissioned by and is dedicated to Satoko Inoue. The first performance was given by Satoko Inoue in Tokyo on March 4, 2018. (TW)

Reminiscence (2023) by Satoshi Tanaka. The phrases containing chromatically descending notes repeat the transposition all the way through. This piece is music that quietly reminisces. (ST)

Itsuwarinaki-Kokoro II for solo piano (2015/2022) by Yuji Itoh. This piece is a solo piano version of a composition for woodwind quintet (Ob, Cl, B.Cl, A.Sax, Fg). (Woodwind quintet premiered in 2015, Trier, Germany). At the time of the original composition, every chord and every single note was written with the specific timbre of the specific instrument in mind, and my head was filled with the timbre of the woodwind instruments. This time, in this piano version, I was interested in how the piece could be listen to when it lost the colorful timbres of five woodwind instruments. The piece is made up of only two elements: the chords and the single notes that follow preceding chords. The single notes are subtly imbued with meaning and color, depending on the preceding chord. A chord has its own meaning and color, but it also acquires many new meanings and colors from its relationship with the preceding chords and single notes. In other words, every chord and single note acquires its own meaning and color in relationship and becomes a specific entity. I am interested in listening to each of those individual notes and not in high-order structures. For many years I have been composing in the hope that the 'every one note' would be listened in fascinating way. The issue is: how can the 'one note' exist independently and be listened in fascinating way? This may be the antithesis of the crude groupings of 'Japanese' and 'American', 'human' and 'nature', 'us' and 'them', etc. (YI)

Sight Rhythmics (1975) by Jo Kondo. Sight Rhythmics was originally written for five instruments: violin, steel drum, banjo, electric piano and tuba. The work consists of six short movements that sound very much alike. These movements seem almost identical, but careful listening will soon reveal their differences. I call this device pseudo-repetition, and it could be placed somewhere between literal repetition and variation. Literal repetition is in itself static, heading nowhere. Pseudo-repetition is almost as static as literal repetition, but at the same time becomes a vehicle for hidden change and motion. Perhaps the best term to describe this fluid situation, contradictory though they may seem, are the words ‘dynamic stasis’. We could liken the listener’s experience of dynamic stasis to the way we experience our everyday life. Each day seems very similar to the previous one (daily routine), but today is never exactly the same as yesterday. (JK)

Three Winter Months (2019) by Kondo. Since the early 1970’s, I have been composing music based on a single melodic line. Three Winter Months is not an exception, although it may not sound so to the listener’s ears, due to the nature of the melodic line that spreads out over a very wide range. The continuity of the melodic line is made ambiguous intentionally in this piece. After the first ‘phrase’ of the melodic line is sung, the first and second halves of the phrase are played again but somehow combined simultaneously (in other words, the phrase is ‘folded’). Then, the second phase is treated in the same way, followed by the third, and so on. In the ‘folded’ section of each ‘phrase’ repetition, the continuity of the melodic line becomes even more vague. What I am interested in when writing the piece is the threshold of perception, at what point scattered notes become a line (or melody), and at what point a melody transforms into ‘sound texture’ without melodic legitimacy in our aural perception. It took me three winter months to write the piece. (JK)

Pomegranate (2020) by Kondo. The form of this work is based on the responsorial plain chant, in which a cantor sings first and then the chorus responds. That is to say, a single melody is played, and then the melody is repeated along with other notes (in other words, with added thickness of sound). This repetition occurs twice (unlike in the case of responsorial chant), and the second repetition is with an even denser texture than the first. However, we cannot necessarily recognize that they are repetitions of the same melody because the original melodic line is buried in the chordal textures (i.e., the chord-colorings to each individual note that constitutes the original melody) which grow thicker with each repetition. Thus, the second repetition may be heard as a transformation of the melody into thicker sound aggregates. In any case, after a melody is repeated a total of three times in this way, it is followed by a new melody. The entire form of the piece is based on the repetition of this process of three repetitions of each melody. There is no particular reason why I named this piece ‘pomegranate’. When I finished writing the piece, the name simply came up into my mind – that is the sole reason. Some time after I sent the completed score to Satoko Inoue, whom the piece was written for, I happened to learn that pomegranate is one of her favorite foods. That said, you may imagine that there might have been some unconscious connection. But, of course, it’s only a delusion. (JK)

Satoko Inoue is a renowned leading interpreter of contemporary solo piano music. She finished the master’s course of composition at Tokyo Gakugei University. Since 1991, after her career as the member of “Musica Practica Ensemble,”she has been engaged in solo activities. Her repertoires mainly include the works of Jo Kondo, Morton Feldman, John Cage and Luc Ferrari as well as those of other Japanese composers. Her activities have been worldwide, as she has played at international contemporary music festivals; given solo recitals in Europe, North and South America, and the Middle East; and made lectures for Master Classes of universities. From 2018 to 2022, she was involved in the ‘Experiment of piano music to be handed down to the future’ on extended piano techniques project. She has recorded solo CD albums on HatHut Records (Switzerland), Emec Discos (Spain), ALM Records (Japan) among others. Inoue was Professor at the Kunitachi College of Music in Tokyo until March 2023.

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