Born in Osaka and educated at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Paris, Momo Kodama is well-placed to approach music from both Eastern and Western vantage points, as she does in this album which interweaves etudes of Claude Debussy (1862-1918) and Toshio Hosokawa (born 1955). Both composers have similarly been border-crossers. Debussy, pointing to music of the future, looked to the Orient for inspiration. Hosokawa has long combined aspects of Japanese and European tradition in his contemporary compositions. Momo Kodama’s insights into Toshio Hosokawa’s sound-world are profound. She is one of the outstanding performers of his work, and the composer has dedicated several works to her, including four of the six Etudes for piano included here, all composed between 2011 and 2013: “Caligraphy, Haiku, 1 Line”, “Lied, Melody”, “Ayatori, Magic by 2 Hands, 3 Lines” and “Anger”.
Momo Kodama: “A number of elements in Hosokawa's music make me sense a proximity to Debussy. One is the freedom of its formal design; another is its interplay and layering of colours. What I find especially remarkable in both is a capacity for poetic utterance that ranges widely between lyricism and drama, between meditation and virtuosic display. Fascinating blends of light and shade, of grand gestures and minimalist refinement, virtually invite us to combine them while at the same time paying attention to their differences and independence.”
This sense of shared aesthetic correspondences emboldened Kodama to alternate etudes of the two composers in the present recording. As she points out in her performer’s note, although Debussy’s Études – written in 1915 - are conventionally performed as a cycle, it wasn’t always that way: “Reading Debussy's letters to his publisher, I discovered that he did not compose his Études in the order in which they appear in print today. And at the time it was perfectly natural not to treat printed études of this sort as a mandatory cycle, but to perform them singly or in groups of two or three.” Together with producer Manfred Eicher Kodama developed the idea of placing the two cycles – Debussy’s and Hosokawa’s - in juxtaposition, creating an “interrelated dialogue” between them.
Kodama: “Once I had lit on my idea and tried it out, I took a liking to this version. The alternation brought out many a detail in each composer more sharply and placed it in more deliberate focus. In this way, the connection between the two composers grew more and more dear to my heart. In a quite general sense, the correlation between Debussy and Hosokawa has heavily influenced and reconstituted the way I view their music.”
After her time at the Paris Conservatory in the class of Germaine Mounier, Momo Kodoma made further studies with Murray Perahia, András Schiff, Vera Gornostaeva and Tatiana Nikolaïeva. In 1999, she became the youngest winner of the Concours International ARD in Munich. Momo Kodama has been invited to perform with world renowned orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Bayerisches Staatsorchester, Tokyo Symphony, NHK Symphony, NDR Hamburg, Radio France Philharmonic and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic orchestras, under the baton of Seiji Ozawa, Eliahu Inbal, Charles Dutoit, Jun Märkl, Lawrence Foster, Kent Nagano, André Prévin and Sir Roger Norrington. She has appeared at prestigious festivals including Marlboro, USA; Verbier and Lucerne, Switzerland; La Roque d’Anthéron, Festival d’Automne, France; Festival Enesco, Romania; Festival Tivoli, Denmark; Settembre Musica, Italy; and Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. Her musical partners include Renaud Capuçon, Christian Tetzlaff, Steven Isserlis and Jörg Widmann. A highly regarded performer of the music by Olivier Messiaen, she was awarded the Saji Keizo Prize by the Suntory Foundation in Japan for her contribution to contemporary music.
Point and Line, recorded in Neumarkt in January 2016, is Kodama’s second ECM New Series album. It follows the widely-praised La vallée des cloches, which also traced lines of influence between Orient and Occident with music of Ravel, Takemitsu and Messiaen.