For this 2013 release on ECM New Series, Momo Kodama has selected three works that demonstrate the piano's potential for atmosphere and scene painting, qualities dear to French and Japanese composers. Maurice Ravel's Miroirs, Toru Takemitsu's Rain-Tree Sketch, and Olivier Messiaen's La fauvette des jardins are evocative compositions that summon up extramusical images and natural sounds, depicted somewhat impressionistically through the crystalline timbres available on the piano. By titling the album after Ravel's La vallée des cloches, the fifth piece in Miroirs, a subtle connection seems to be drawn through the bell-like chords that are found in all three works. Though these pieces' styles are quite different, they share the piano's ringing sonorities as important coloristic devices. Kodama is a sensitive performer with a profound sense for nuances and shading, so it is natural for her to be drawn to these composers, whose music is well-suited to her refined artistry. In a more extroverted pianist's hands this program wouldn't be nearly as effective as it is, yet Kodama's introspective approach makes it hold together admirably.
Review by Blair Sanderson