Hisato Ohzawa

Piano Concerto No. 3 “Kamikaze” / Symphony No. 3 “Symphony of the Founding of Japan”

A kamikaze piano concerto? Isn’t that dangerous to both the pianist and audience? Actually, this music is not about World War II suicide attackers. It was inspired by a 1937 airplane named Kamikaze (Japanese for “divine wind”), which set a speed record in a flight from Tokyo to London. The composer, Hisato Ohzawa, studied in America with Frederick S. Converse, who himself wrote a piece honoring Henry Ford’s Model T. One might expect machine music, but this is a very romantic concerto, reminiscent of a 1930s film score, and excellent! The second movement opens with a sweet sax solo leading to music not unlike Claude Debussy’s popular “La Plus Que Lente.” Ohzawa’s Symphony No. 3 is an imaginative glimpse at Japan’s prewar musical sophistication. The Russian Philharmonic Orchestra plays both splendidly.