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Yamaha Entertainment Group is launching a new label, covering all sorts of music and including - a FIRST for Yamaha! - Classical and Jazz artists from their roster of musicians.

I have been very lucky to be a Yamaha Artist for the past 26 years, and honored to have been chosen to launch this recording venture. Here is an excerpt from my notes on this VERY special project that will be coming out in Audio CD, Video DVD and DisklavierTV formats!!


Distant Voices

Recorded in Nashville at Ocean Way Studios on Music Row in Spring 2015.

Piano Music of Claude Debussy and Gao Ping

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The opportunity to create the first YEG Classical piano album, exploiting the possibilities of the new CFX Concert grand and the latest in Disklavier technology, immediately brought Debussy to my mind. Debussy’s music is a touchstone in my life, representing all of the revelations and transformations that came to me when I first went to live in France. The anecdote told by the great French pianist Alfred Cortot sums it up; after playing some of Debussy’s work for the composer’s young daughter, her flatly stated appraisal was, “Papa écoutait davantage” [Papa listened more.] Discovering Debussy was my discovery of truly listening to the piano, and through that to the music itself.


The music of Gao Ping, one of the most prominent of the “Sixth Generation” of Chinese composers in the Western tradition, clearly displays his love of the piano and his admiration for the music of the Golden Era of the piano, with Debussy at the heart of that era. At the same time, his roots in Szechuan province are forever present, in the turn of the phrase or the gestures of Szechuan theatrical opera. The three pieces of Distant Voices draw material directly from his Chinese background, but his abstract treatment creates what could be considered a true successor to Debussy, an Images III.

When I first met Gao Ping, hearing him perform pieces for Vocalizing Pianist, I suddenly became more attuned to the pianist’s role in any performance, and began to hear the groans and stomps of the performer as a possible enhancement of the live musical experience. In a similar way, John Cage’s 4’33” makes the audience more aware of the sounds in their environment. And this is why Gao Ping is the natural companion to Debussy on this album; he also makes us “écouter davantage.”

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