Pianist Aki Takase's first solo album, Le Cahier du Bal was recorded over two days in a Berlin studio. The 15 short pieces (six minutes and under) were improvised, but all follow a similar direction or mental preparation: the musician was thinking of dancer Anzu Furukawa, fingers trying to emulate her moves. Rarely has such simple, almost naïve, artistic intent yielded more adequate results. The music literally dances; using his or her mind's eye, the listener can follow Takase's steps on the keyboard. Her classical training permeates throughout, giving her energetic improvisations a flavor similar to Sergey Kuryokhin, although more human, so to speak. Takase uses prepared piano on the three "Inside Tales," a decision that hinders the movement she intends to translate. On all other tracks she sketches gravitation-defying moves. The imagery is enhanced by her choice of titles and allusions to classical forms: "Tango de Anzu" is a dislocated example of this revered dance. "Menuet Mozambique" and "Rigaudon," the latter involving some scraping of the piano strings, nourish complex relationships with the archaic dances they allude to. The same applies to the very impressive "Tarantella 2001." Saying that Le Cahier du Bal makes an impressive debut would be an understatement. It is the strongest, most virtuosic, most original solo piano performance since the release of Kuryokhin's The Ways of Freedom back in 1981.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture