Chitose Okashiro

A Leaf: Beatles Piano Transcriptions

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A Leaf is the second disc released by Château Records, pianist Chitose Okashiro's own label. The music is drawn from the works of John Lennon & Paul McCartney as transcribed for solo piano, with the special addition of McCartney's own piano suite A Leaf heard in orchestral garb on McCartney's album Working Classical, but here presented in its piano original for the first time. This is not an easy listening classical crossover album. The selections range in style from transparently lovely, such as Toru Takemitsu's rendering of "Golden Slumbers" to extremes of avant-garde, for example Ryuichi Sakamoto's Aki 2.2, which takes a variety of mannerisms from the Magical Mystery Tour album and subjects them to a collage-like fragmentation. McCartney's suite A Leaf is a slight and rambling set of short pieces that evokes the spirit of Erik Satie. Okashiro does these little miniatures proud, polishing them into gems with her secure touch and sensitivity. The rest of the program is performed with no less involvement or interest on the part of Okashiro, who approaches all the pieces with great care. Okashiro's sense of touch is so disciplined that even when the scores call for her to bang out tone clusters you don't feel the force of their pressure, you just hear them as chords. Clearly this menu of Beatles piano transcriptions is not for everyone who likes (or thinks they like) the Beatles. However, A Leaf is a courageous and extremely positive collection of varied viewpoints on the legacy of Lennon & McCartney and should prove rewarding to any listener who is capable of approaching the music of the Beatles with a sense of adventure. The packaging, notes, and recording quality of the release are all superbly done.

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