Wanderer-Fantasy, D 760
Sonata in B flat major, D 960
audite 92.575 SACD
release date: September 16, 2011
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This is a delight. Hideyo Harada gives us a performance of both the Wanderer Fantasy and the Sonata D 960 that can measure up with the best. For me Schubert is not quite suited for power players. It would seem that most of his solo piano compositions are better served by tenderness, 'sehnsucht', 'leidenschaft' and a reflective approach. Harada has all that. She is, of course, not new to this kind of repertoire. Some 8 years ago she launched an ambitious Schubert cycle in Tokyo, not only covering the complete music for piano solo, but also the various pieces Schubert wrote for chamber players. From the well documented liner notes one learns that she won a number of prizes in international piano competitions. However, the real the proof of the pudding is in the eating, i.e. in the concert hall, or, in this particular case, the recording studio. Harara does not disappoint. Aided with a beautiful piano sound, so well captured by the Audite engineers (in PCM), and her flawless technical skills, she brings us an interesting coupling of two key works. The Wanderer Fantasy, perhaps the most monumental piece of Schubert's piano 'œuvre', comes off very well. Energetically, yet thoughtfully played. But for me the best part of this disk is her intelligent, romantic and sometimes dreaming performance of Schubert's final Piano Sonata. One of the difficulties with Schubert is that his sonatas can become all too easily fragmented in less competent hands, whereby the soloist loses the flow and hence the coherence of the overall structure. Harada's careful approach and her often light and clear 'toucher' keeps the structure intact from the first till the very last note, whilst, at the same time, revealing the deeply emotional feelings which Schubert has hidden in the score, notwithstanding the key of B flat Major and the quasi optimistic singing melodies in the third movement. I was completely spell-bound and I cannot but wholeheartedly recommend this disk.  ( October 19, 2011 )


Should one speak of a genuine surprise – or instead simply of the confirmation of an extraordinary talent? Regardless, this Schubert program by the Japanese pianist Hideyo Harada impressed me more strongly than a stack of recordings bearing more familiar names. Harada has long since merited our attention through a series of competition prizes and distinctions. This Schubert recording too will make you sit up and pay attention. Not solely by virtue of its superb recorded quality in surround sound, which gives the piano an fully natural sonority, but above all through the beauty and authenticity of the performance, which penetrates deeply into the inner world of both featured compositions.

The Fantasy in C major D. 760, the so-called Wanderer Fantasy, which often serves as a vehicle for pianistic virtuosity, displays all of the requisite technical artistry, but in addition to a delightful and spirited energy, Harada’s playing also manifests a conceptual depth that is experienced only rarely. She takes the time to listen closely to the music, bringing to light Schubert’s rich emotional world. Rarely has the exquisite Adagio received such a moving interpretation. In Schubert’s final Sonata in B Flat Major, she journeys even further into Schubert’s mysteries. This works too is performed at a rather deliberate tempo (46'10: a playing time close to Sviatoslav Richter) – yes it makes a thoughtful impression rather than a ‘sluggish’ one, introverted, even dreamy, especially in the opening Molto moderato movement, a highly nuanced performance that sets themes and motifs off against one another with great clarity. Even more contemplative, more introspective, is the marvelous Andante sostenuto, which allows the tragic dimension in Schubert to resonate with such moving inwardness and intensity. Hideyo Harada has given us a recording that can be set alongside some of the most celebrated.

This Schubert CD was awarded the "Supersonic Award" by the Luxembourgian music magazine Pizzicato in the December 2011 edition.
Piano News

… In this recording, just as with the celebrated B-Flat Major Sonata, Harada is not satisfied with simply repeating things that have been said a thousand times before. She strives for the new, the fresh, the unspoiled – nor is she averse to risk-taking. A must for your CD shelf. (November / December 2011)

Fono Forum

Clearly, Hideyo Harada is an artist (the lie of which are encountered with increasing infrequency) who takes a great deal of time with her recordings, determined to create exceptionally well-wrought interpretations of great intellectual penetration. Following the subtle miniatures of Tchaikovsky’s Seasons, Harada astonished her listeners with an emphatic performance of Schumann’s Fantasy in C Major, before turning her attention toward a pair of works by Schubert.

By choosing points of emphasis in a highly individual way, Harada easily holds her own against the competition. In both the Wanderer Fantasy and the Sonata, the sheer beauty of her playing seems to elevate it into a higher sphere. The roundness of her tone, the way her phrases breathe, the lucid architectural structure, her subtle instinct for heightened intensity, her tireless alertness: all of these elements combine to produce convincing performances that benefit as well from the recording technology and the brilliance of the instrument employed.

Harada opens the Fantasy with dramatic aplomb, at the same time avoiding the misuse of this massive sonic gesture for a demonstration of sheer power. In the Adagio, she achieves a genuine miracle of interpretive intensity that allows the deep sense of yearning to become palpable. And in the Sonata as well, many psychologically satisfying moments allow the work to transcend its grieving atmosphere, suffusing it with the warm light of compassionate humaneness.

This Schubert CD was awarded the "Star of the Month" by the German music magazine Fono Forum in its November 2011 issue.