Giacinto Scelsi (1905-1988) wrote one of the largest sets of piano music in the 20th century. Scelsi was a virtuoso pianist, and even his most experimental compositions in this genre show a marked pianistic conception. Largely ignored during much of his life, Scelsi was basically only "discovered" in the 1980s.
Though a recluse in his later years, there were some artists who worked with Scelsi and gained special insight into the spirit of his compositions. Renowned contemporary music pianist Aki Takahashi was one of these musicians. The program Ms. Takahashi has selected for this recital is largely made up of works which she prepared with the composer.
It includes one of Scelsi's greatest piano pieces, the Quattro Illustrazioni - a tour-de-force of exotic, erotic illustrations depicting the different incarnations of Vishnu.
From the mid-1950s, Scelsi's interest in microtonality led him to abandon writing for the piano. The only exception is recorded here. Scelsi's last composition, Un Adieu, is an extraordinarily beautiful, melancholic piece that truly conveys the feeling of 'farewell' in its title.
Reviews"The third installment of Mode's cycle of Scelsi's piano music surveys his early works for the instrument. The pianist Aki Takahashi was one of Scelsi's pianists of choice, and she approaches the pieces with discernible sympathy. Sonate No. 3 (1939) uncovers Scelsi's Romantic roots, but the obsessive musings over not much material in Ka (1954) mark a turning point towards his mature style. The primitivism and quick costume changes of material in Cinque Incantesimi (1953) remain effective, and the disc ends with Un Adieu, a meditative mid-70s composition." - Philip Clark, The Wire