Anton Webern: Variations for Piano, Op. 27

"The most satisfying aspect of Taka Kigawa’s performance at Le Poisson Rouge on Monday evening was the sense of clarity and apparent ease he brought to a parade of harmonically thorny and, in some cases, texturally dense piano works. He gave himself no breaks in this short but intense recital. You get an idea of how difficult the program was once you realize that the least demanding score Mr. Kigawa played was the Webern Variations (1936), a piece that taxes both the technique and imagination of a pianist intent on winning an audience to its charms. Making listeners as passionate about the Webern as he is — Mr. Kigawa said, in comments from the stage, that it was one of his favorite works — was clearly among his goals. Where many pianists use the score’s sparseness as the foundation of a disembodied, abstract interpretation — certainly a legitimate approach — Mr. Kigawa used it as the basis of a warm, shapely account that put its structural logic and occasional playfulness in the spotlight. Every phrase was carefully defined, and Webern’s silences were embraced as part of the music’s fabric." - Allan Kozinn, The New York Times

"What was most startling was the clarity of Mr. Kigawa’s playing. He started with an “ancient” piece, Anton Webern’s Variations. What struck one was the absolute clarity of the music. Yes, the pianist paid self-conscious attention (perhaps homage) to the plethora of dynamics in Webern’s work (as he should have). But the movements themselves were so clear that the variants were as lucid as any older composer." - Harry Rolnick, Concert.Net