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Album review: Momo Kodama, La Vallée des Cloches: Ravel, Takemitsu, Messiaen (ECM New Series)


This intriguing programme of 20th-century piano music, performed with precision and empathy by the Japanese virtuoso Momo Kodama, moves from the reflective impressions of Ravel's suite Miroirs to the frantic bird-like chatter of Messiaen's "La Fauvette des Jardins" via the simple but sophisticated cameo of Toru Takemitsu's "Rain Tree Sketch" – Zen droplets dripping from branches. Mapped in sprays of staccato, crystalline high-register bursts, among which more predatory presences lurk with heavier tread, the Messiaen piece is an exacting but rewarding experience, though it's arguable that Ravel's suite was more ground-breaking.

Download: Noctuelles; Oiseaux tristes; Rain Tree Sketch; La Fauvette des Jardins