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Phillip Scott
Fanfare, September 2008

The Japanese series on Naxos continues apace with this, a second issue devoted to the music of Hisato Ohzawa (1907–1953). Ohzawa studied in Boston and Paris in the 1930s, and his music reflects those influences; he falls at the Western end of the East-West spectrum…the music is smartly orchestrated, and the piano-writing in the Concerto is idiomatic. (Ohzawa was himself a pianist). Saranceva tosses off the solo part with appropriate élan, especially the exuberant finale, and the Russian forces under Yablonsky are confident and clearly recorded. With more familiarity, they might have given this music the stronger character it seems to lack.

My verdict: an enjoyable if not absolutely essential issue in an intriguing series.

David Hurwitz, July 2008

The symphony is a major work that features a very interestingly structured second movement: two arias, for English horn and for two clarinets, alternate with two toccatas for solo violin and then all four previous solo instruments…quite well performed and recorded…you’ll want to add this release to your collection.

Steven Ritter
Audiophile Audition, May 2008

I enjoyed this album tremendously…This music is clever and very intimate in that its descriptiveness (not in a literal sense) is as though someone was telling a story…The Russian Philharmonic definitely sounds better here than I have heard them in the past—no complaints at all, and conductor Yablonsky has the full measure of this music. This is quite a discovery, and the resurrection of a man who certainly deserves more than the obscurity he has been languishing in for 50 years. The sound is resonant and clear, with the right amount of warmth. Positively recommended!

David Denton
David's Review Corner, April 2008

Born into a prosperous Japanese family in 1907, Hisato Ohzawa had a most impressive list of musical mentors

Born into a prosperous Japanese family in 1907, Hisato Ohzawa had a most impressive list of musical mentors in both the United States and Western Europe and included Schoenberg, Sessions, Nadia Boulanger and Dukas. Though reminded by many of them that he was Japanese, he chose to be influenced by the music of the French Impressionists to an extent that his music became entirely reliant on their style that he updated by the era of Honegger. He was a gifted orchestrator and certainly knew how to create the structure of a concerto and symphony, his one drawback being a lack of immediately memorable thematic material. He was, of course, not alone in that problem, and he has the advantage of a likeable musical character, the concerto progressing in long flowing lines with sufficient technical hurdles to interest the virtuoso. Winner of major competitions, the Russian pianist Ekaterina Saranceva, plays with flair and clarity, and with that feel of long-term familiarity. That would equally apply to the conductor, Dmitry Yablonsky, who gets conscientious playing from the Russian Philharmonic Orchestra, his strings strong and precise in articulation, the brass warm and round to match the Frenchness of the symphony.

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