Japanese pianist Rieko Aizawa, discovered at age 13 by the late Alexander Schneider on the recommendation of pianist Mitsuko Uchida, has since established her own unique musical voice. Schneider engaged her as soloist with his Brandenburg Ensemble at the opening concerts of Tokyo's Casals Hall; later that year, Schneider presented 14-year-old Ms. Aizawa in her U.S. debut concerts at the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall, performing Mozart's Concerto No. 12 in A Major, K. 414, with his New York String Orchestra.
Praised in 2009 by the NY Times for her "impressive musicality, a crisp touch and expressive phrasing," Ms. Aizawa has performed in solo and orchestral engagements throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe, including Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall, Boston's Symphony Hall and Chicago's Orchestra Hall. Highlights of recent seasons have included acclaimed performances with the New Japan Philharmonic under Seiji Ozawa, the English Chamber Orchestra under Heinz Holliger, the Festival Strings Lucerne in Switzerland under Rudolf Baumgartner, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra under Hugh Wolff, the Curtis Institute Orchestra with Peter Oundjian, the St. Louis Symphony under David Loebel, and a wonderfully received performance with the Vienna Chamber Orchestra. Ms. Aizawa also has a great interest in exploring unusual repertoire. In October 2007, the St. Paul Pioneer Press described her performance with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra conducted by Hans Graf "the Salieri Piano Concerto in C was played so splendidly by Rieko Aizawa. Hers was a graceful reading. .... Aizawa's performance lent the work a respect it rarely receives." In the same year, she received the Washington Award.
As a recitalist, Ms. Aizawa has been heard in many North American cities, including New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC, St. Louis, Seattle, Boulder, Los Angeles, Houston, and Toronto; at the Caramoor International Festival; at Lincoln Center's Mostly Mozart Festival; Ravinia Festival, Gilmore Keyboard Festival. Following a recent all-Beethoven recital in Dresden, Germany, a reviewer wrote: "Her listeners followed her playing -full of details and delicate contrasts- breathlessly." Ms. Aizawa recently has started her "Prism" series in Japan, with tributes to Beethoven, Brahms and Schumann, and specially commissioned works for each program. She also will continue her exploration of Beethoven's music with a Beethoven cycle at Rutgers University in New Jersey. In 2006, Ms. Aizawa performed a series of all-Mozart recitals, a project jointly presented by WFMT-Chicago and Fazioli.
An avid chamber musician, Ms. Aizawa has performed as a guest with string quartets including the Guarneri Quartet, the Orion Quartet and the Shanghai Quartet, and she has participated in numerous festivals, such as the Marlboro Music Festival, U.S.A.; the Kammermusik Festival Moritzburg, Germany; and the Evian Festival, France. She has been a guest artist of Boston's, Philadelphia's and Seattle's Chamber Music Society. Ms. Aizawa is a founding member of Duo Prism with a violinist Jesse Mills, which earned the 1st Prize at the Zinetti International Competition in Italy in 2006. With Mr. Mills, Ms. Aizawa became co-artistic director of the Alpenglow Chamber Music Festival in Colorado in 2010.
Ms. Aizawa received her Masters Degree from the Juilliard School, where she worked with Peter Serkin. She is also a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where she was awarded the prestigious Rachmaninoff Prize and studied with Seymour Lipkin, Peter Serkin, and Mieczyslaw Horszowski as his last pupil. March 2005 marked the release of Ms. Aizawa's first solo recording on the Japanese label Altus Music - a tour-de-force CD of Shostakovich's and Scriabin's "24 Preludes." Her second solo CD, of Faure's and Messiaen's preludes, will come out in 2011.