Q&A: Pianist Taka Kigawa on his upcoming performance of Pierre Boulez’s solo piano music



Taka KigawaFrequent LPR guest Taka Kigawa returns to our stage this coming Monday, August 25, and we couldn’t be more excited. In celebration of Pierre Boulez’s 90th birthday, the acclaimed pianist will be performing the French composer’s complete solo piano works.

We caught up with Kigawa to ask him a few questions about Boulez and Monday’s recital, which has received enthusiastic recommendations from the Village Voice and Time Out New York. Check out the Q&A below.

LPR: When were you first drawn to Boulez’s music?

Taka Kigawa: That was when I was in elementary school in Japan, a very long time ago… I heard Maurizio Pollini playing Boulez’s Second Sonata. I was completely struck with its rhythmic excitement and ethereal sonority. I thought it was a music from space…

What was it like to meet and collaborate with Boulez?

An always eye-opening session. He taught me how to “decipher” his complex music, such as what is important and what is less important. Also hidden counterpoints, efficient fingering, pedaling, relaxation, etc., etc.

What made you decide to perform all of his solo piano music in one program?

I thought it would be an interesting program to perform all of his piano pieces at once because, although all of them naturally sound like Boulez, there are striking differences and contrasts. And I have been performing these works for a long time, plus, his 90th birthday is just around the corner, so I thought, it is the time.

Has your approach to Boulez’s music changed over time?

I think that I feel more comfortable after years of performances and practice. I had found quite a few easier and more logical ways of playing each piece.

Taka Kigawa performing Boulez’s Second Sonata at LPR in 2011

Do you have some favorite pieces or sections?

I wish I could pinpoint something and answer specifically, but it is very hard because I love all of them!

What do you imagine you’ll be doing when you turn 90 years old?

Alive and well with my wife, and hopefully still playing cutting-edge music at (le) Poisson Rouge!!!

The "Taka-San"Anything else people should know about the concert?

It would be good to listen to the recording of those pieces before the show, sort of preparing… But if you are not familiar with Boulez’s music, I suppose it might be by far more interesting just to come down to LPR on the 25th and “feel” the music. Oh, and there will be a special drink named after the pianist, right? That’s what people should know now!

That’s right! Come join us for an extraordinary solo performance by a virtuosic pianist and a delicious “Taka-San” cocktail (Hendricks Gin, sake, plum preserves and lemon) on Monday, August 25.

posted by John