For the past 5 years, pianist Yu Kosuge has created a series of four recordings inspired by the Greek concept of the four elements: Fire, Water, Wind and Earth.
Last year her ‘Wind’ album really impressed me with its bird-inspired 18th century music by Daquin,Couperin and Rameau. With her Beethoven, the Tempest Sonata No 2, she really took off. ‘Wind’ ended up in my top 15 recordings for 2021 –.
Her latest offering ‘Earth’ is every bit as accomplished. Kosuge is a creative soul and graces the CD cover wrapped in jute robes. With her face daubed in mud, she blends into the surrounding woodland. In Wind she was dressed similarly – but her face, minus make up, was angled to the wind, her long hair floating and lifting. Kosuge immerses herself in her subject and this sensitivity and her tremendous sense of self translates to her play.
Kosuge tackles Schubert’s demanding Fantasy in C major with gusto and with immense assurance, her intelligence shining through. I was surprised to discover that Kosuge is now 38 years of age, she looks no more than an adolescent in the photographs. I loved the adagio.
With the Janáček Sonata 1 X, Kosuge brought forth all the drama and tenderness of the work.
I didn’t think this album could get any better – but it did. After slipping in a bell-like work by contemporary composer Dai Fujikura, ‘Akiko’s diary’, Kosuge went on to perform Frédéric Chopin’s ringing Sonata in B minor (a perfect follow on). I was knocked out by her interpretation. So natural – the sonata felt remarkably comfortable in her hands. This was a very centred performance.
‘Earth’ will appeal to Chopin fans and to those who have been following Kosuge’s ‘Elements’ project. If you’ve never heard of her – I urge you to listen to this very interesting musician who trained under András Schiff. My next project is to try and see her live! Meanwhile I can feel this recording making my top selection this year, even though 2022 has only just begun!