Homage to Franco: Japanese & Italian Contemporary Piano Works Inspired by Franco Donatoni


  • Artist(s): Kumi Uchimoto
  • Composer(s): Akira Kobayashi, Andreina Costantini, Fabrizio De Rossi Re, Fiorenza Gilioli, Gian Paolo Luppi, Hiroyuki Yamamoto, Rica Narimoto, Sonia Bo, Takashi Tokunaga, Tomoyuki Hisatome
  • Edition: Da Vinci Classics
  • Format: 1 Cd
  • Genre: Instrumental
  • Instrumentation: Piano
  • Period: Contemporary
  • Publication year: 2020
  • EAN Code: 7.46160911816
SKU: C00351 Category:

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On August 17th, 2000, Franco Donatoni passed away. This CD is an affectionate homage to our “artistic father” but also to a friend we used to see in our youthful years, in the numerous Italian Academies and at the University of Bologna. In the Eighties and in the following years, it was normal for composers from all over the world to ask him for advice, and this happened to the five Italian composers represented in this CD and also to Hisatome: they happened to be together for two years, working in Via della Conciliazione in Rome, where the master courses for postgraduates of the Academy of Santa Cecilia took place. Surrounded by the fog of his cigar, or dining together at Borgo Pio, there always were constructive discussions on composition, which eventually led all of us to write and also to teach at various Conservatories. The dissemination of Donatoni’s thought later infected our Japanese colleagues represented in this CD, since he went frequently to Japan as an invited professor at the University of Tokyo, in order to teach and transmit his thought there just as he did in Italy. The idea for this project came to me when, as I happened to be teaching at the Aichi University of Nagoya and to be working with the students of my colleagues Yamamoto, Hisatome, Narimoto and Kobayashi, I felt myself very sympathetic to their languages and I discovered with great pleasure that Franco Donatoni’s music was among their compositional models. The discovery of these common roots led me to think how gratifying it could be to remember him from West to East, with a language which is not substantially different. After twenty years, our affection for the Maestro has not changed; rather it increased in all of us, because, with time, we developed a greater awareness about his teaching. Remembering him is a pleasure and an honour, because this brings us back to a unique season of our lives and also of the Italian musical culture.

By Gian Paolo Luppi

Ritratti d’Oriente

This is a series of Preludes written at the end of 2017. They constitue a collection of musical portraits of various Japanese composers and musicians met during his stay in Nagoya by the composer who has been teaching at Aichi University of the Arts and Music for several months. In each of these Preludes, the composer tries to describe the qualities and characteristics of his colleagues. In particular, the four pieces on this CD portray the four Professors of composition, some of whose works are also included in this CD.

Illuminated Windows II

Inspired by the lights of hotel windows. Viewing the hotel by night, there are windows with and without light, and the contrast looks like some kind of pattern. I took over 100 photos and analyzed the pattern. I applied them and derived from them the rhythm structure of my work. In those processes, however, my immediate concern was not whether or not my composition faithfully ‘mimics’ what I found in the analyses. My aim was to internalize what I found there, to develop my own interpretation, and to make it manifest.

Una Partenza dall’Europa

My study in Italy for two years renewed the perception of music I had in Japan. Since then, I have started thinking about my musical language and learning ideas about ethnic music including that of my own country. The title of this piece comes from that. The sound being prepared at the beginning consists of seven pitches (FACDHEsE), found in the monogram of Franco Donatoni and Hisatome. The motif of the first half of the piece refers to the Pigmies’ polyphony of Africa. The second half is a music produced by a distorted bass and sounding like a percussion instrument. Finally, by quoting a melody worshipping a Guru (Maestro) in North Indian music, i.e. “Vande Guru Deva”, I express my gratitude to Maestro Donatoni at the piece’s closure.

Autopoietic Motion

This work was inspired by autopoiesis, a concept in life science. Since living organisms continue to metabolize, it can be said that their bodies are constantly changing. I sought the truth of life by presenting this ever-changing state itself. And the wonderful pianist Kumi Uchimoto brought my notes to life with transcendental skill and excellent sensibility.

Canto senza parole

This piece is a transcription from the third movement of “À la recherche du texte perdu IV”, originally a piece for female choral composed by myself. When a piece is transcribed to a different medium, the music takes on a completely different aspect, and it reborn to a new piece. This is very close to a translation of language.

Once again

The title of this work is a quote from Stardust, “the song about a song about love”. That song seemed befitting to honour the memory of my teacher, both because of the evocative words and in purely musical terms: a minor-seventh arpeggio, made up of the notes included in Franco Donatoni’s name, appears at the very beginning of that song’s refrain. So the musical material employed through most of this piece lacks the notes D, F, A, C, symbolizing Donatoni’s absence, according to a practice he himself sometimes used. In the end, those notes come to light as a whole chord and as piano harmonics, perhaps with some stardust effect…


As described by the title Tides, this piece belongs in a cycle of three naturalistic pieces inspired by the observations of phenomena connected with water. This is the second one. It describes the movement of marine waves, just as the Baroque masters first, and the Impressionists later, had done. With a contemporary language, it evokes the seeming immobility and the small surface ripples, up to the imposing waves.


This piece is a toccata, which has been one of my favorite musical forms for a long time; I have been impressed by the performers’ dazzling virtuosity. Trying to compose beautiful music that exhibits the pianist’s technique and quickly passes by, I named this piece “Illusion.”

Sette Refrains

I decided to remember Franco Donatoni through a very intimate personal memory. It is the memory of a dinner we had in Bologna, after a concert, in the late 1990s. After spending some time at the restaurant, we ended up in the street, chuckling between ourselves while softly singing some well-known (and lesser known) songs of the Fifties and Sixties. The picture of Franco, one of the most important twentieth-century composer, who happily sang with me, under the city’s arcades, is one I will cherish in my heart for my entire life. I therefore thought of writing a piece divided into seven very short refrains (Refrain is the title of four pieces by Donatoni, written for various ensembles). It should somehow recall those songs, reviving them as confused scraps of memory, as songs barely alluded to between two chuckles. My sixth Refrain contains a quote from Rima per pianoforte (1983), a magnificent piece by Donatoni dedicated to the extraordinary pianist Maria Isabella de Carli.


D’Onde for piano was written in 2018 to remember Franco Donatoni; under his guidance, Sonia Bo completed her postgraduate studies both at Accademia Chigiana in Siena and at Academy of S. Cecilia in Rome.
The composition is also connected to “Waves” by Virginia Woolf, especially referring to the first part of the novel, written in italics. The piece does by no means describe the text; instead, some of Woolf’s lines encouraged a deep research into how to transform colors, as well as a reflection on the passing of time.


Kumi Uchimoto: born in Aichi in Japan, she began her piano studies under the guidance of the tenor Minoru Uchimoto. She specialized with Chieko Hara de Cassadò and Ryoko Fukazawa, and continued her stusies in Italy with Nunzio Montanari, Martha Del Vecchio and Michele Campanella.
She received her diploma summa cum laude from the Conservatorio “C.Monteverdi” in Bolzano and at the “Accademia Pianistica di Imola” receiving her diploma as a soloist.
For over twenty years, she has collaborated regularly with the Ensemble Icarus of Reggio Emilia(Italy), specializing in contemporary music and participated to numerous première of music dedicated to them. She has recorded several CD for the Ricordi, Ariston, Rivo Alto, Spazio Musica, Nuove Sincronie, Stradivarius and Limen. Her concerts have been broadcasted on radio and televisions in various countries like Germany, Japan, France, Finland, the Netherland, Mexico, Rumania, Russia, Switzerland and Spain. She is a professor at the Aichi Prefectural University of Fine Arts and Music.


Akira Kobayashi: He graduated from Tokyo University of Arts and Music and holds a master’s degree in Arts. He has received numerous prizes in international competitions and awards including First Prize at the 1st International Carlos Chavez Prize competition for Young Composers, First Prize in Japan Symphony Foundation’s 10th Composition Competition, Finalist in the 3rd Music Today Composition Prize, Finalist in the 1st Nuove Sincronie International Composition Competition and Honorary Plaque in the 9th International Gino Contilli Composition Competition. His works were selected to be performed for Asia Music Week 2000 in Yokohama and Federation Music Week in 2001. He studied at the Sibelius Academy on an academic grant from the Japanese government in 1996. Currently, Akira Kobayashi is a Professor at Aichi University of the Arts.

Andreina Costantini: She studied composition with the G. P. Chiti and U. Rotondi, graduating from the Conservatory of Milan. At the same time, she graduated in Musicology at the DAMS in Bologna. He attended the Postgraduate Courses of the National Academy of Santa Cecilia and the Accademia Chigiana di Siena held by F. Donatoni. She was a guest composer at the Ferienkurse für Neue Musik of Darmstadt from 1986 to 1992, obtaining remarkable recognitions of press and criticism and numerous performances of her works. In 1988, she was the assistant to I. Yun at the Hochschule Berlin. She has collaborated with prestigious soloists such as Arditti Quartet, R. Fabbriciani, P. Y. Artaud, R. de Saram, B. Webb, and with ensembles such as Ex Novo, Icarus, New Made, WNC of Cologne, and others. From 2013 to 2016 she gave seminars as a guest lecturer at the Musikhochschule of Hamburg, Oldenburg, and Hannover on the music of G. Scelsi and of her own.

Fabrizio De Rossi Re: He is the composer of a vast musical output characterized by the continuing quest for an unpredictable sound path, joining and melting some stylistically multifaceted experiences, always balancing a direct and open communication with the linguistic heritage of the historical avant-gardes. De Rossi Re’s music is open to various and differentiated influences and experiences, ranging from jazz to popular music, to early music, and to experimentalism. His ability to assimilate various musical techniques and to carefully evaluate the expressive potential inherent in all musical styles, from popular music to avant-garde, results in a highly original musical language, capable of a difficult synthesis between experimentation and communication.

Fiorenza Gilioli: Composer and musicologist. She studied Humanities at Pisa, Scuola Normale Superiore, and Composition at the Conservatories of Bologna and Milano, obtaining her final degree in Composition from Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia with Franco Donatoni. Her works have been performed in Europe and in the USA. As a musicologist, she researches about music at the Este Court of Modena during the baroque age, and derives her inspiration for composing contemporary music from Baroque aesthetics.

Gian Paolo Luppi: He studied at the Conservatory "G. B. Martini" in Bologna, graduating in Composition, Conducting, Choral Conducting, Instrumentation for Wind Band, and Piano. He has been teaching in Italian conservatories since 1981 and has become Professor of Composition at the Conservatory of Bologna since 1996. Winner of numerous national and international competitions, he has published with Peters, Edipan Ut Orpheus, and other publishers. His music is broadcast by all European radios and is featured on various CDs and LPs. He has been a guest lecturer at various European institutions and at the Aichi University of Nagoya.

Hiroyuki Yamamoto: He completed post-graduate studies in composition at the Tokyo University of the Arts in 1992. So far, he has won numerous prizes, including 3rd place in the BMW musica viva Composition Prize (Germany/1998), 1st prize in the Toru Takemitsu Composition Award (2002), and the 13th Akutagawa Award For Music Composition (2003). His compositions have been performed by Nieuw Ensemble, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, etc., and have been broadcast on radio. He is a member of the Nagoya based Musica QuLacoza, and is a professor at the Aichi University of the Arts.

Rica Narimoto: Composer based in Japan, she completed her M.A. and Doctorate of Music at the Aichi University of the Arts and has received several awards including the Irino Prize, the Asian Cultural Council Individual Fellowship Award (USA). She says about her work: “Most of my recent works are derived from my own analyses of a variety of art forms such as non-Western music, visual arts, and literature as well as various kinds of natural phenomena. I do not aim to represent these things in my music but rather to consider them as sources of inspiration when I devise new compositional methods. In particular, I am drawn to their inherent aesthetics.” She is an associate professor of Aichi University of the Arts.

Sonia Bo: She obtained diplomas in piano, choral music, and composition. In 1985 she won first prize in the international competition "Guido d’Arezzo" and in a competition for orchestral works in the European Music Year. Her works have been performed in major theatres (Teatro alla Scala festival; "NOS Radio Philharmonic Orchestra"; "Verdi" orchestra-Milan; "Maggio Musicale Fiorentino"; "La Biennale"–Venezia; ISCM Festival; "Juillard School"-New York, "Almeida" Theatre- London, etc). Her works are published by Ricordi, Curci, Edi-Pan, Sconfinarte. She teaches composition at the Conservatory of Milan, where she has been the Director from 2010 to 2013.

Takashi Tokunaga: Born in Hiroshima. He studied composition under Tomoyuki Hisatome at Hiroshima University, earned a master's degree in music education, and then earned a D.M. from Aichi University of the Arts. Now he is an associate professor at Hiroshima University. He has also participated in several composition seminars and workshops with Franco Donatoni, Giacomo Manzoni, and others. His piece was performed at the ISCM world music days 2002 Hong Kong and 2014 Wrocław. He was invited to the Session de composition 2004 in Royaumont as an exchange student with the Takefu international composition workshop. He has won The Takefu Composition Award 2005. He is a member of the composers’ group ‘Chronoi Protoi’ which was awarded the Suntory Music Award ‘Keizo Saji’ Prize in 2009.

Tomoyuki Hisatome: After getting a degree in politics, he received a scholarship from the Italian Government and studied music at the Conservatory G. Verdi in Milan and graduated from the Academy of Santa Cecilia in Rome. He received a master's degree from the Tokyo University of the Arts. He is a Professor of Aichi University of the Arts.

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