Japanese Violinist Hideko Udagawa Taps into Her Russian Soul
A Russian maestro once told Japanese violinist Hideko Udagawa (shown here on the right) that her grasp of that nation's composers indicated she had Russian blood coursing through her veins. Udagawa's latest CD, Aram Khachaturian: Sonata and Dances (Koch), is further evidence that this former child prodigy is tapped into Russia’s collective soul. The stunning disc (with Russian pianist Boris Berezovsky, shown above on the left) features seven world-premiere recordings.
It commemorates the centennial year of Khachaturian (1903–1978), one of Russia's best-loved composers before he was denounced in 1948 by the Soviet regime—along with Shostakovich and Prokofiev—for writing elitist works.
The disc also enjoys a bond with filmmaker Peter Rosen's remarkable new documentary Aram Khachaturian, which is making the rounds this fall on the North American film-fest circuit.
Rosen (who directed a music video for Udagawa, which is included on the enhanced version of her new disc) introduced Udagawa to Khachaturian's grandson, who then offered the violinist the previously unpublished manuscript to Dance No. 1 (1925) from the family archives. Other world-premiere recordings on the new CD include the rarely heard but powerful Sonata for Violin and Piano, Elegy, the Nuneh Variation from "Gayaneh" (transcribed by L. Feigen), Nocturne from "Masquerade" (transcribed by the composer), Ayesha’s Dance from "Gayaneh" (transcribed by Jascha Heifetz), and Dance of Egyna from "Spartacus" (transcribed by K. Mostras). Of course, Khachaturian’s best-known piece, Sabre Dance from the 1942 ballet "Gayaneh," also is included in a raw (and quite difficult) transcription by Heifetz.
"Khachaturian had so much love, so much emotion for his music–his happiness, his sorrow, everything comes out in his music," says Udagawa. "His music is so colorful, so original."
Her interest in the Khachaturian project started when a friend introduced Udagawa to the Sonata for Violin and Piano, which she had never heard before. "I started to look at it and thought, what an interesting piece," she recalls. Udagawa was astonished to find that no one had ever recorded the work. She soon started to research Khachaturian's other works and found several unrecorded pieces by the composer.
"I feel that he is very underrated as a composer and was surprised that so many of his works were unrecorded," she says. "I feel like it's my mission to bring this music to a new generation and that more people should play his compositions.
"I have so much passion for this!"