Ayako Ito

Sonata in B flat Major D.960 | Drei Klavierstücke D.946

Price: € 19.95
Format: CD
Label: Challenge Classics
UPC: 0608917289220
Catnr: CC 72892
Release date: 04 March 2022
1 CD
✓ in stock
€ 19.95
Challenge Classics
Catalogue number
CC 72892
Release date
04 March 2022

"She clearly relishes the unique tonality of Clarke’s fortepiano, with an almost harp-like sparkle emerging from the range at about two octaves above middle C, and of course there is that dark chocolate purr in the lower range. The natural recorded sound only enhances the unique pleasures of this release. "

Fanfare, 01-9-2022

About the album

Ayako Ito: Nowadays, in concert halls, we generally see a single type of piano that normally has 88 keys and is normally black. Things were quite different in the Vienna of the 19th century: the piano had fewer keys, was decorated with wooden inlay and had no steel subframe. All this made them sound quite different.

Conrad Graf was one of the finest builders of pianofortes in Vienna in the period from 1820-40. And Franz Schubert was living in the same city.
We can revive a rich, warm, singing, powerful and even orchestral sound on Graf's pianofortes. His pianos feature the Viennese action or “Prellzungenmechanik”, with their hammers built up from many layers of leather. These hammers allow the performer to impart subtle nuances and dynamic contrasts. Of course, the pianos are straight-strung.
The player can alter the tonal colour using four pedals, with one of the pedals specific to the pianoforte being the moderator. When the moderator pedal is depressed, a strip of cashmere slips between the hammers and the strings.

Christopher Clarke (1947) built the instrument used for this recording in 2000, as a facsimile of Conrad Graf's pianoforte no. 995.
Clarke's pianoforte always inspires me. I find it a miraculous instrument. The utter precision of the mechanism lets us explore the finest gradations and introduce the most subtle nuances – singing, speaking or whispering. It is a mechanism that demands a high technical mastery from the player.

Ayako Ito: Heutzutage sieht man in den Konzertsälen in der Regel einen einzigen Klaviertyp, der normalerweise 88 Tasten hat und normalerweise schwarz ist. Im Wien des 19. Jahrhunderts war das ganz anders: Das Klavier hatte weniger Tasten, war mit Holzeinlagen verziert und hatte keinen Stahlrahmen. All dies führte zu einem ganz anderen Klang.

Conrad Graf war einer der besten Klavierbauer in Wien in der Zeit von 1820-40. Und Franz Schubert lebte in der gleichen Stadt.
Auf Grafs Pianofortes können wir einen reichen, warmen, singenden, kraftvollen und sogar orchestralen Klang wiederbeleben. Seine Klaviere sind mit der Wiener Mechanik oder Prellzungenmechanik ausgestattet, deren Hämmer aus mehreren Lederschichten aufgebaut sind. Diese Hämmer ermöglichen es dem Interpreten, feine Nuancen und dynamische Kontraste zu erzeugen. Natürlich sind die Klaviere gerade besaitet.
Der Spieler kann die Klangfarbe mit vier Pedalen verändern, wobei eines der Pedale speziell für das Pianoforte der Moderater ist. Wird das Moderatorenpedal betätigt, schiebt sich ein Kaschmirstreifen zwischen die Hämmer und die Saiten.

Christopher Clarke (1947) baute das für diese Aufnahme verwendete Instrument im Jahr 2000 als Faksimile von Conrad Grafs Pianoforte Nr. 995.
Clarkes Pianoforte inspiriert mich immer wieder. Für mich ist es ein wunderbares Instrument. Die absolute Präzision der Mechanik erlaubt es uns, die feinsten Abstufungen zu erforschen und die subtilsten Nuancen einzuführen - singen, sprechen oder flüstern. Es ist ein Mechanismus, der dem Spieler ein hohes Maß an technischer Beherrschung abverlangt.


Ayako Ito played Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto with Anima Eterna Bruges in 2020 and his Choral Fantasia in 2018 (in Coesfeld, Bruges and Frankfurt on a

Tröndlin instrument, ca. 1830).

She has been giving recitals on period instruments since 2000. In 2005, she presented Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations in Tokyo, a recital that was warmly celebrated by the press. Her first CD – of works by Liszt, Debussy and De Falla played on an Erard concert grand piano – appeared in 2013. She regularly records for radio and television, including for Mezzo and Klara in Europe and NHK and FM in Japan.

She is a passionate chamber musician, with her appearances including duets with Jos van Immerseel on period pianofortes. The Immerseel-Ito duo has been reviewed as a “Divine cross fertilisation between miraculous piano virtuosi”. Ayako Ito was born in Tokyo and studied at the Toho-Gakuen College of
Music. In Europe, her studies were with Theodor Paraskivesco in Paris for contemporary piano and with Jos van Immerseel for period instruments (pianoforte) at the Royal Conservatoire in Antwerp. She attained a Master’s degree summa cum laude for pianoforte and chamber music in 2002.

This was followed by a three-year spell as a guest piano teacher at the same Conservatoire.

The rediscovery of piano works on the instruments that inspired their composers can make the music sound surprisingly fresh. Ayako Ito takes delight in letting a wide audience hear the quality of these masterpieces on the very finest pianofortes.



She clearly relishes the unique tonality of Clarke’s fortepiano, with an almost harp-like sparkle emerging from the range at about two octaves above middle C, and of course there is that dark chocolate purr in the lower range. The natural recorded sound only enhances the unique pleasures of this release. 
Fanfare, 01-9-2022

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