Mona Asuka : Mozart: Piano Works
By Illiam Sebitz
Mona Asuka is a classical pianist that has been stunning audiences since the age of four when she performed as a guest artist at a competition in Munich’s Residenz. She made her orchestral debut at the age of thirteen and has played with top orchestras ever since. Including the Hong Kong Philharmonic and Edo de Waart, Mozarteumorchester Salzburg and Ivor Bolton, Philharmonia Orchestra London, Dresdner Kapellsolisten, Württembergisches Kammerorchester, Münchner Symphoniker, Südwestdeutsche Philharmonie and Staatskapelle Weimar. Performances in Japan have included the Nagoya Philharmonic Orchestra, Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra, Hiroshima Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble Kanazawa under Kazuki Yamada and New Japan Philharmonic at Suntory Hall. Asuka has won numerous first prizes in national and international competitions, including the Grotrian Steinweg Competition. In 2006 she received the Audience Award at the Bad Kissingen Piano Olympics, and in February 2011, the Festival Prize for artistic achievement at the Sommets Musicaux Festival in Gstaad. Her 2008 debut recital at the Ruhr Piano Festival was met with great acclaim. Asuka’s debut album Schubert & Liszt: Piano Works was released in summer 2017 on Oehms Classics. She is now releasing Mozart: Piano Works on the haenssler CLASSIC label.
“Piano Sonata in C Major, K. 545 “Facile”: I. Allegro” is the first sounds we hear on the album, and Asuka starts with authority and sonic command. Her subtle approach is heard in the playful melody. The quick melodies have character and direction. The accompanying figures are balanced. The minor section is given a slightly different touch to bring out the darker sonorities. Asuka’s flowing piano style is perfect for Mozart’s music, and her interpretation of this well-known Sonata is evidence of her deep understanding and commitment to the classics.
“Piano Sonata in A Minor, K. 310: III. Rondo – Presto” this Sonata was influenced by the fact that Mozart’s mother had just passed, and that impacted the sonorities and character of the Sonata. Asuka accepts this and builds upon this emotion. Her forceful articulation of the left-hand ostinato’s builds the ominous tone while her flawless mechanics of the sixteenth note passages dive in and out of the minor harmonies. She is not afraid to accentuate the distances of the moment, and that brings out the beauty. The middle major section is given a playful touch, and that provides a sweet breath of fresh air.
Mozart’s music has much joy, and this is an essential aspect of his compositions. However, there is also much grief intertwined between the notes. Asuka understands this and brings those moments out. The balance of elation and sadness is what makes these Sonatas intriguing. Asuka’s second album, Mozart: Piano Works, is an excellent presentation of her skills as a player and transponder of emotion. Her catalog continues to be one of intensity and beauty as we enjoy her musical explorations.
Release Date: March 13, 2020
Label: haenssler CLASSIC