Dear America,  

Akira Eguchi plays Gershwin

Released on May, 2002.
This CD was selected as one of the best new released albums
from Japanese recording magazine, Recording Arts September 2002.

On September 11th 2001, New York City was stricken with terror.
The twin towers of The World Trade Center collapsed, and, in an instant, thousands of lives were tragically lost.
I cannot and shall not forget the sights, smells, and suffering that followed.
For me, September 11th started out as another typical morning, but as this news broke, and as the air was filled with sounds of emergency vehicles rushing to the scene, I was struck with disbelief regarding what was going on several miles away. As the days went by, and the facts unfolded, this shock turned to anguish and a darkness clouded the hopes of New Yorkers.
By coincidence, my recording session for this CD of works by American composers was scheduled in the same time frame. As a Japanese pianist living in New York City, I felt the least I could do was express, through my piano, the agony of the people of New York and my sympathies for them. To this end, I changed the program and decided to include "Jeannie with Light Brown Hair" and "The Alcotts".
I would like to dedicate this CD to the several thousands of victims who never came home that day, to their bereaved families, and, to the United States of America which is bravely recovering from this tragedy.

Spring of 2002, at New York

Akira Eguchi

NY Steinway Model-D (1989)

George Gershwin (1898-1937) / Akira Eguchi (1963-)

Rhapsody In Blue can be found in many different versions including the orchestration for solo piano and orchestra by Grofe, which forms the basis for my new arrangement for piano solo. Existing recordings of Gershwin's own performances on piano roll are actually a superimposition of two two-hand playings which result in a four-hand sound. I reflected this sound in my own two hand arrangement while trying to keep the solo part identical to the composer's original version, and overlaying additional orchestral sounds. As a result, this solo version is technically very difficult and requires skillful use of pedalling, specifically, frequent switching between the three pedals of the instrument.

Stephen C. Foster (1826-1864) / Jascha Heifetz (1899-1987) / Akira Eguchi (1963-)

I dream of Jeannie with the light brown hair,
Borne, like a vapor on the summer air,
I see her tripping where the bright streams play,
Happy as the daisies that dance on her way.
Many were the wild notes her merry voice would pour,
Many were the blithe birds that warbled them o'er:
Oh! I dream of Jeannie with the light brown hair,
Floating, like a vapor on the soft summer air.

I long for Jeannie with the daydawn smile,
Radiant in gladness, warm with winning guile;
I hear her melodies, like joys gone by,
Sighing round my heart o'er the fond hopes that die;
Sighing like the night wind and sobbing like the rain,
Waiting for the lost one that comes not again;
Oh! I long for Jeannie, and my heart bows low,
Never more to find her where the bright waters flow.

---Stephen Foster

Charles Ives (1874-1954)

This is the third movement of his second piano sonata. The title, "Alcotts", refers to Bronson Alcott, a noted transcendentalist minister, and his family, which included his daughter, the writer Louisa May Alcott. Americans may sense nostalgic melodies in it, but I hear something quite different particularly as I reflect on my experience performing this piece on several occasions after September 11th, 2001. Hymn tunes, a motif from Beethoven's "Fate Symphony", sounds of bells, and an old Scottish melody all suggest the character of that tragedy. So, for me, The Alcotts which expresses anger, sorrow, consolation, peace and reminiscence took on a very special meaning.

Percy Grainger (1882-1961)
Pf. Eri Kang

An Australian pianist, Percy Grainger arranged Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess" as a Fantasy. He was a very unique, rather eccentric player; sometimes he freely changed notes and rhythms from the original scoring to insist on his own musical ideas. Yet, this arrangement for two pianos remains very faithful to the original Gershwin melodies, except for some of his own passages. We added some passages to create a more realistic orchestral sound, and decorated the melodies with improvisations to further distinguish the character of each song. Such improvisations can be heard in "It Ain't Necessarily So", "Strawberry Call", and the famous lullaby "Summertime". We were careful to make sure that the improvisations did not exceed the limits of freedom given to operatic singers.

Aaron Copland (1900-1990)

Composed in 1926, the Sentimental Melody is indicated as "Slow Dance", and carried through on a characteristic relaxed swinging rhythm. This somewhat humorous melody is typical of Copland's style, and it is quite interesting to compare his interpretation of the word "sentimental" with interpretations by other composers, such as Ravel and Tchaikovsky, who also wrote dances (waltzes) with the same adjective in their titles.

William Bolcom (1938-)

This is a masterpiece that combines the Ragtime style, classical harmony, and an intimate melody that creates a sense of longing, even for first-time listeners. To Bolcom, a contemporary composer, working on many Rags might only have been a part of his creative activities; however, his achievement in the Last Rag is a highly praised and important contribution to Ragtime.

John P. Sousa (1854-1932) / Vladimir Horowitz (1903-1989)

This massive transcription of Sousa's famous march, "The Stars and Stripes Forever" is known as one of the most difficult pieces to play; it certainly is the arrangement that showcases Horowitz's extraordinary technique. The polyphonic scoring in the middle Trio section is quite characteristic of Horowitz. He made this arrangement in 1945, a year after he became a US citizen, both to celebrate the end of World War, and to pay tribute to the United States of America which accepted this Russian immigrant pianist with open arms.

Back Cover Photo by Miori Inata

Purchase this CD in Japan

Purchase this CD in the States and other countries