Akira Wakabayashi (Piano)

Japanese pianist Akira Wakabayashi is one of Japan's prominent virtuosos, highly acclaimed around the globe. He is known for his extraordinary technique, and dynamic expression even comparable to an orchestra.

Akira Wakabayashi Photo

Akira Wakabayashi studied under Hiroshi Tamura at The Tokyo University of Arts, and Hans Leygraf at the Mozarteum Academy in Salzburg and Universität der Künste Berlin. He won the second prize in the piano category at the 51st Music Competition of Japan in 1982. He received the second prize at the 37th Busoni International Piano Competition in 1985. In 1987, when he was only 22 years old, he was awarded the second prize at Queen Elisabeth International Music Competition, which has thrown him into the public limelight. Since then, he has been very active giving concerts and recitals throughout the country. He performs with number of orchestras within Japan and overseas. He gave his acclaimed New York recital debut at Carnegie Hall (Weill Recital Hall) in 2002. He has achieved immense successes in Music Toronto's Chamber Music Series in Canada and in the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series in Chicago, for which he has been re-invited. Other appearances include the performances at "la Folle Journee" de Nantes festival in France, and in the Amorina Piano Recital Series in Stockholm. He has steadily broadened his scope and gave master classes at "Royal Northern College of Music" in Manchester, UK. e orchestras he has collaborated with include the major Japanese orchestras for example NHK Symphony Orchestra, and renowned overseas orchestras such as e Berliner Symphoniker, St. Petersburg Academic Symphony Orchestra, Russian National Orchestra, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra, the Limburg Symphony Orchestra, e Pasdeloup Orchestra, and Scottish Chamber Orchestra. He has also worked with many notable conductors. ey include Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Gerd Albrecht, Alexander Lazarev, Daniel Harding, Osmo Vänskä, Vladimir Spivakov, Gerhard Bosse, and Hartmut Haenchen. In the chamber music field, Wakabayashi has jointly performed with a number of Japanese and overseas distinguished musicians including Kolja Blacher, Steven Issarlis, Tsuyoshi Tsustumi, Karl Leister, Francois Leleus, Radek Baborak, Leipzig String Quartet, and Vienna Octet. His performances in this field with these musicians are always appealing. His recent concerto performances, where he plays his instrument as well as takes the role of conductor, have been receiving a great attention. In late years, he has also done a number of collaborations with Rieko Suzuki, violinist and his wife; their performances conveying their deep insights into the music are highly appraised for their artistry. Wakabayashi's works have been released on various labels such as Denon, Live Notes, and Octavia to date. In the spring of 2013, he and Rieko Suzuki have jointly released "Brahms: Violin Sonatas No. 1, 2 and 3" (King International), "Schubertiana", "Mozart Violin Sonatas Vol.1" (Octavia Records). As a soloist, he has released "Rachmaninov: Piano Sonata No.2, Preludes" in Autumn, 2013, "Beethoven: Piano Sonatas No. 8, 14, 23, Fur Elise" in January, 2014, "e Nutcracker Edition for piano by Tchaikovsky" in November, 2014, "Liszt Piano Works" in June, 2015 (Octavia Records). Four solo albums were selected as "Highly Recommended Discs" in the magazine "Record Geijutsu" ('e Art of Records') . His solo recital in January 2014 at the main hall of the Suntory Hall was a big success and received great responses. It went on air in the "Best of Classic" program of NHK FM. Akira Wakabayashi keeps pursuing quality sounds for his ideal music he images in his mind. He does so intensely for: refining his expressions, like "Espressivo (expressively)" and "Cantabile (in a smooth, lyrical, flowing as you sing a song)" which require some extra caliber since piano is not suitable for sustaining drones; seeking a way to express, for instance, "an explosive fracture" with piano, which only a large size orchestra group could do seemingly; and creating sounds so that each of them, even the faintest one, could have a universe within. Only a true virtuoso can achieve rich and profound musical expressions with a full array of sophisticated sounds. He has received the Idemitsu Award in 1992, the Mobil Music Award (Incentive Award) in 1998, and Hotel Okura Music Award in 2004. Currently, he is a special-appointment professor of Toho Gakuen School of Music, a professor on the faculty of music of Kunitachi College of Music, and Coaching Faculty of Suntory Hall Chamber Music Academy.

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