The following is an interview with Hiroshi Arimori, pianist and professor at Tokyo University of the Arts and Music. It was conducted at the "Lecture Concert: Symphonies by Haydn and Scriabin" on Friday, August 5, 2022@Sympony Salon.
“What is the significance of performing Scriabin's symphonies with a piano ensemble? It is quite a rare repertoire to play Scriabin's symphonies with the piano four-hands, isn't it? Could you tell us what your thoughts are behind this?”
Arimori: "This year, 2022, is an anniversary year (note: 150th anniversary of his birth). I thought that without such an occasion, the time to get deeply involved with Scriabin's symphonies would not come in my lifetime. I have always believed that a deep understanding of symphonies will lead to better performance of piano works. This is true for Beethoven and Tchaikovsky. The same could be said for Scriabin. Students play Scriabin's solo piano works often, but I thought that there might be a chance that they play his piano pieces in a superficially cool way. I am not 100% certain if I understand them deep enough, either. So, I decided to take this opportunity to do the entire symphonies of Scriabin. His symphonies include a variety of styles, so I thought it would be appropriate to present them in a lecture concert so that we could get a clearer picture of his music. I thought it would be an interesting way to listen to the concert and a learning experience if the performers and the audience work together in reading the music. My piano students will learn a lot, too."
“Now I see that it is useful to have a deep knowledge of symphony when performing piano music. This time it is in the form of a piano duet. But there are many different kinds of instruments in an orchestra. What are the challenges of playing them on the piano?"
Arimori: "When a composer writes a score for a symphony, his preferences are strongly expressed. What kind of instruments are used for the melody, how they should sound, what kind of instruments should be combined for that... I think such ideas reveal the characteristics of the composer very well. When I look at the arranged versions of Scriabin's symphonies for piano four-hands, I find that the tremolo technique is often used, and the rhythms are often made ambiguous by using tremolo. I felt that this is something that is common to the world of his piano music. By seeing the concrete similarities between piano and orchestra, it will open up more imagery than ever before when we head into his piano works."
“How do you deal with Russian music in the current situation? You are widely known to be the leading specialist in Russian piano music in Japan.”
Arimori: "I am swirling with emotions that I don't know what to say about the situation that is happening right now. However, as far as music is concerned, there is no reason for me to feel any differently. Rather, even though this situation happened, it did not cause any change in the way I feel about music. I was able to reconfirm the appeal of music through this experience. I have heard news reports that people are refraining from performing Russian music, etc., but I believe that it is wonderful for composers to create good music, and we perform it, share in it, and create happy moments, no matter what the circumstances are. I am amazed, even within myself, that I was able to reaffirm that."
Venue: Symphony Salon
Interviewer Naoto Odagiri