Monday, August 15, 2011

Takahiro Sonoda plays the Well Tempered Clavier Book II

The name of Takahiro Sonoda (1928-2004) is not at all well known outside his native Japan. He was a pupil of the great Leo Sirota, whose teaching in Japan in the thirties and forties kickstarted a distinctive Japanese school of pianism. Lyrical, passionate yet fastidious are the qualities I would pinpoint in Sirota's playing that seem to have been handed down to the succeeding generations.

Sonoda's recordings of Bach well examplify this quality. His own philosophy, preserved in transcripts of his own teaching, is well worth a read if you are interested in pianism. A little quote: Comparing the delicate, maple-leaf-shaped hand of Japanese people with the baseball-glove-shaped hand of foreigners, there's a huge difference between the two as far as the force and weight of the palm are concerned.

These recordings are very scarce. The CDs have disappeared these many years – sadly, because this is pianism of a high order indeed. My transfers are in mp3, VBR at about 240k. The recordings are from the 1990s, and sound very well indeed.

If there's interest, I can put up Book I, which contains a C sharp minor fugue of uncommon intensity.

Download from Rapidshare


  1. Beautiful, unmannered playing of Bach, how refreshing... I remember hearing a recording of Sonoda playing Mozart sonatas years ago and the merits were the same. Book 1 would be most welcome,
    best wishes,

  2. Most welcome, Gerard! I've never heard his Mozart, but apparently he recorded some sonatas at the request of his pupils, and they are wonderful interpretations.

    I note that you are Paul Procopolis. As a matter of trivia, I wrote the Wikipedia entry for him!

  3. Hi Ronan, yes I used the epithet Paul Procopolis, as a hommage to my love of Fiorentino. I left comments regarding your sharing of the Chopin Nocturnes the other day but for the life of me couldn't log in as me so had to use "anonymous". Many thanks for sharing the Sonoda Bach books 1 & 2, his playing of the '48 is so uncomplicated, letting the music breathe... I could sit in the sun lounge listening to him play for hours...
    best regards

  4. Thanks a lot --- this is my introduction to this pianist and I am finding much to enjoy in both books of his WTC. Also, many thanks for the countless treasures you have posted since I last looked months ago (sorry!) --- I'm downloading as fast as I can, and the listening pile is getting higher every day ...... Have you run across any recent Patricia Kapatchinskaya (sp?) broadcasts recently? Her Berg concerto is excellent and her commercial Beethoven Concerto recording is a delight. Was it from you that I acquired a broadcast of the Triple Concerto? That was my introduction and I was immediately smitten ....

    Thanks again for your taste, discretion and hard work!