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Pianist portraits Vol.1 福間洸太朗 Kotaro Fukuma 1/2


This pianist – Kotaro Fukuma – has an unclouded world as his name represents – with letters meaning dignified and clear.  By making arrangements to the all-time repertoires, he brings the historic classic music to the next level using digital contents.  After the great success of his arrangement recital at Hamarikyu Asahi Hall on February 27th, we have somehow managed to interview him before he departed for his March 2nd performance in Osaka.



Contemporary virtuoso pianist who used to avoid arrangements


Fukuma studied in Paris and Berlin and still lives in Berlin. His repertoire consists of composers from baroque to contemporary.  The program he played during the interview was a compilation of the arrangements by famous pianists such as Liszt, Pletnev and Weissenberg.  However, according to Fukuma, he didn’t feel comfortable writing an arrangement in the beginning.



“To be honest, I did not like the genre of arrangement so much in the beginning because of my respect for the composer of the original pieces but after studying abroad, I came across variety of works and became more open minded.  Of course, I do have pieces that I like and dislike but what I played today is all my favorites.  You also have to think about creating a piece easy to play.  For example, Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker”, arranged by Pletnev, is so difficult, but because he is a great pianist, your hands get used to playing it as you practice.  On the other hand, the piece I played after it – Taneyev arrangement “Flower Waltz” – is a piano reduction, so it doesn’t have as many sounds as Pletnev, but there are parts that are difficult to play.  So I always pay attention to how easy or hard it is to play the arrangement.



Fukuma writes arrangements too.  Arrangements of Ravel’s ‘La Valse’ and Satie’s ‘Je Te Veux (I want you)’ were in the program for the interview.




“My arrangements are based on the ideas I get from Liszt and Rachmaninoff’s arrangement methods.  I’m not intending to, but it just turns out as if I have.   Thinking about what my originality is, I guess that I always try to bringing about exciting surprises.

For example, I arranged “Je Te Veux” imagining an amusement park, so I made it sound fun by setting the central theme on the inner voice part and inserting glissando.  Contrary to this, I didn’t add too much of my taste to “La Valse” and aimed to add more sounds to the original piece to make it more like an orchestra or two piano version”



Chanson French Romanticism




4月17日にはこの2曲が入った新譜が発売される。タイトルは『France Romance』。フランスを代表する作曲家の叙情的な作品がラインアップされた。

“Je Te Veux” is a popular melody that is modified by various techniques, and is a challenging variation to play.  The score has been published by Muse Press last year.  In “La Valse”, the sound gets thicker and the Wiener Waltz collapses with more intensity.  A new album with these two pieces will be released on April 17th.  It is titled, “France Romance”, and is consisted of lyrical works by a leading French composers.




“The program concept of this CD was originally to put a Chanson arrangement in the end, and to insert small French lyrical pieces to lead toward the end.  Originally, there was supposed to be an 8 minutes medley made of 10 Chanson arrangements but wasn’t actually recorded due to copyright issues.  So instead, I decided to include “La Valse” instead.  I think that this choice was a good one after all.  The original line-up only had relaxed pieces in it so by inserting “La Valse”, it not only has thick music content, but also good for showing off the techniques as a pianist, but it adds excitement to the album.  I thought that putting this piece in the middle would create the peak of the program and add color to the entire album”


『France Romance』(Naxos Japan)



The romance of the French work that started from Debussy’s “Reverie” becomes mainly expressed by Chanson after “La Valse”.  Among all is the Chanson arrangement of Charles Trenet by Weissenberg, which is also included in Hamelin’s jazz piano collection “In a State of Jazz”.


この曲はワイセンベルクがMr. Nobodyと匿名でレコードをリリース。正確無比で硬質なピアニズムのイメージが強いワイセンベルクだが、この編曲は洒脱でウィットに富んだ仕上がり。演奏効果も高い。

This song was released anonymously by Weissenberg as Mr. Nobody.  Weissenberg has a strong image of unparalleled accuracy and hard pianism, but this arrangement is completed as a sophisticated piece full of wit.  Performing this excites the audience too.



“I found it around 2014, but it is really an amazing arrangement.  The score was published by Muse Press at the end of last year.  My friend Shota Ezaki made contact with Weissenberg’s family and Hamelin and made the score, and I was involved in some of the proofreading work. I was the first one to do the recording of the published version”





The score is a compilation of the Weissenberg recording version and his autograph version. Fukuma said that he interlaces the two as he play the piece.



“I think that Weissenberg changed the arrangement quite a bit while he was recording.  I also made many changes during my own recording to modify it so that it is easier to play.  When I write the sound down for the first time, I always have this specific sound that I want to play, but there is always a part that doesn’t feel right.  The reason is not always the same and sometimes it is the sound not being naturally connected, or sometimes, the tempo becomes too heavy, so it takes time and creativeness to complete it.  So I’m pretty sure that Weissenberg has also altered the score a lot.  It is interesting to see how it changed”



The last piece is also a Chanson.  It is Fukuma’s own compilation of Jean Lenoir ‘ Parlez-moi d’amour’.  This song has a deep relationship with the Toru Takemitsu program that Fukuma previously worked on.




“In fact, this is the Chanson that motivated Toru Takemitsu to become a musician.  I have made the arrangement for the lecture concert encore in 2007.  I got a great response when I played this in France, and it led to the arrangement of Satie’s ‘Je Te Veux’.  Chanson is not only popular in France.  There are many Germans that is fond of it as well and I noticed when I played it in South America that the people love it.”


En avril a Suntory Hall 4月に、サントリーホールで

In April at Suntory Hall


On April 13th, a concert will be held at Suntory Hall Main Hall to commemorate the new release.  Fukuma shows his sense of enthusiasm as a pianist by making variations from the CD’s program.  The name of this concert is “Vienna and Paris” so the concept extends out of Paris.





“I have deep feelings toward both cities.  Vienna is the first place that I traveled in out of Japan. Paris is the first place that I studied abroad.  Both Vienna and Paris are cities of art but with a totally different taste.  Vienna is a conservative and always trying to preserve good things from the past.  Paris introduces Avant Garde in search of new items.  I had this concept to take up these two cities with extremely high-leveled culture with such a different color, also full of personal memories.

I currently live in Berlin but I often go to Vienna, like visiting places related to composers, giving lessons in command course, and etc.  I have been studying a lot, so I want to show what I have achieved at the big stage of Suntory Hall.

I’ve been working on the project called “Kiseki of the Three Top Music Saints”, which focuses on the three major saints related to Vienna – Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert – for 4 years since 2015, and it is one of the fields I am studying hard on”



It is Chopin’s “Ballad No. 1” that connects the two cities of art.



“Chopin’s “Ballad No. 1” is said to have been inspired in Vienna.  Although no one will know the truth, it is true that he moved to Paris after living in Vienna for several months.  It is the work that overlaps with the timing”


そしてシャンソンを挟み、最後はパリジャンだったラヴェルがウィンナーワルツを主題に書いた『ラ・ヴァルス』で幕を閉じるという魅力的な構成だ。当日は新譜『France Romance』が発売日に先駆けて先行発売される。家に帰ってライブ演奏と聴き比べるのも音楽の楽しみの一つだろう。

The recital closes with “La Valse”, written with the main theme of Viennese Waltz by Parisian  Ravel, after the Chanson.  The new piece “France Romance” will be released ahead of the release date on the day.  You could also enjoy the music by comparing the release with live music.


Go to Pianist portraits Vol.1 福間洸太朗 Kotaro Fukuma 2/2



Kotaro Fukuma Biography

パリ国立高等音楽院、ベルリン芸術大学、コモ湖国際ピアノアカデミーにて学ぶ。20歳でクリーヴランド国際コンクール優勝(日本人初)およびショパン賞受賞。これまでにカーネギーホール、リンカーンセンター、ウィグモアホール、ベルリン・コンツェルトハウス、サルガヴォー、サントリーホールでリサイタル他、クリーヴランド管、モスクワ・フィル、イスラエル・フィル、フィンランド放送響、ドレスデン・フィル、トーンキュンストラー管、NHK交響楽団など国内外の著名オーケストラとの共演も多数。CDは「ショパン〜LEGACY〜」など、これまでに13枚をリリース。テレビ朝日系「徹子の部屋」や「題名のない音楽会」NHK FMなどにも出演。第34回日本ショパン協会賞受賞。現在ベルリン在住。
Studied music at the Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique de Paris, Universitat der Kunste Berlin, and the International Piano Academy Lake Como.  At the age of 20, he won both First Prize (first Japanese!) and Chopin Prize at the Cleveland International Piano Competition.
He has had recitals at major concert venues including Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, New York; Wigmore Hall, London; Konzerthaus, Berlin; Salle Gaveau, Paris; Suntory Hall, Tokyo recitals, etc. up to date and also have performed with noted orchestras including the Cleveland Orchestra, Moscow Philharmonic, Israel Philharmonic, Finnish Radio Symphony, Dresden Philharmonic, Tonkunstler Orchestra, and NHK Symphony Orchestra.  He has released 13  CDs so far, one of which is “Chopin ~ LEGACY ~”.  He has also appeared in TV shows and radios such as “Tetsuko’s Room” on TV Asahi and “Untitled Concert” on NHK FM.  Awarded the 34th Japan Chopin Association Award.  Currently lives in Berlin.




アルバムタイトル:France Romance
アーティスト:福間洸太朗(Kotaro Fukuma)
レーベル:Naxos Japan
発 売 日:2019年4月17日(予定)日本・ヨーロッパ同時発売
価 格:2,500円(消費税別)

・ New release information

Album title: France Romance

Artist: Kotaro Fukuma

Label: Naxos Japan

Release date: April 17th, 2019 (scheduled) Simultaneous launch in Japan and Europe

Price: 2,500 yen (excluding consumption tax)


Debussy: Reverie

Debussy: La plus que Lent

Faure: Improvisation No.5 from 8 Pieces Breves, Op. 84, Nocturne No.8

Faure: Three Romances sans paroles, Op. 17

Ravel: Pavane for the Dead Princess

Ravel: La Valse (transcription by Fukuma)

Satie: Gymnopedie No. 1, Je Te Veux (transcription by Fukuma)

Poulenc: Improvisation No. 15 “Hommage a Edith Piaf “, three novelettes

Weissenberg: 6 arrangements of songs by Charles Trenet

Lenoir: Parlez-moi d’amour (transcription by Fukuma)


日時:2019年4月13日(土) 14:00開演 (13:30開場)
会場:サントリーホール 大ホール
ハイドン:幻想曲 ハ長調 Hob.XVII:4
シューベルト:ソナタ第21番 変ロ長調 D.960
ショパン:バラード第1番 op.23
サティ:ジュ・トゥ・ヴ (福間編曲)
ワイセンベルク: 「シャルル・トレネによる6つの歌の編曲」 より「パリの四月」
チケット料金:S=4,800円 A=3,800円 B= 2,800円 P=2,000円(税込)
サントリーホールチケットセンター:0570-55-0017 http://suntory.jp/HALL/
チケットぴあ:0570-02-9999(Pコード 137-554)
ローソンチケット:0570-000-407(オペレーター対応 10:00〜20:00)、 0570-084-033(Lコード 31312)

・Concert information

Date and time: April 13th, 2019 (Sat) 14:00 starts (opened at 13:30)

Venue: Suntory Hall Main Hall

Cast: Fukuda Ryotaro (Piano)


Haydn: Fantasia C major Hob. XVII: 4

Schubert: Sonata No. 21 in B-flat major D. 960

Chopin: Ballade No. 1 op. 23

Debussy: Reverie

Poulenc: Impromptu No.15 “Hommage a Edith Piaf”

Satie: Je te Veux (transcription by Fukuma)

Weisenberg: “En avril a Paris” from 6 arrangements of songs by Charles Trenete

Ravel: La Valse (transcription by Fukuma)

Ticket fee: S = 4,800 yen, A = 3,800 yen, B = 2,800 yen, P = 2,000 yen (tax included)

Ticket handled by:

Suntory Hall Ticket Center: 0570-55-0017 http://suntory.jp/HALL/

Ticket Pia: 0570-02-9999 (P code 137-554)

Lawson ticket: 0570-000-407 (open 10:00 to 20:00) 0570-084-033 (L code 31312) http://l-tike.com/

Eplus: http://eplus.jp


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