All CD's are signed by the composer and include in-depth commentary on the pieces
Piano Sonata No. 1"Brentburgh, Virginia"
My first full length piano sonata, Brentburgh, Virginia was commissioned by a group of private supporters and funded in part by the Alexandria Commission for the Arts.
I am proud of our collaboration. The work has been performed by many pianists: the great Russell Woollen premiered the piece, and it has the endorsement of the late Igor Uryash. Mr. Uryash wrote: "I found Brentburgh, Virginia to be a throughly rewarding and enjoyable piece to perform. As a foreigner, I naturally found the 'American' thematic material interesting, but more importantly, the treatment of the material is dramatic and pianistic; neither too 'modern' nor too 'simple.' The length and structure also make the piece a real concert work, not just a 'character piece' base of folk and ethnic tunes. I intend to keep Brentburgh, Virginia in my repertoire for future performances."
The germinating idea for the work was to meld indigenous music- particularly that found, or likely to have been found, in Virginia – into a narrative that was itself a dramatic arch. Fragments of just a couple melodies were used. The histories of the melodies provided the narrative, i.e. the structure. To elaborate on just what those histories are and where they rest in the narrative would take a full-length journal article, and this is not the place for such a discussion. Yet, to the people who played and sang these melodies there was – and still is – a real emotional connection. Every melodic step, skip and rhythmic gesture has been honed by generations. These tunes have an impact.
There is some degree of anger within all fine art. Human expression is never simple. Anger is latent within the melodies. My anger and the narrative’s stems from abuses of power – nefarious real estate deals that work against the public good (just an example, of course). But this anger is ultimately transformed into a joyous statement about the good within the human spirit, about how this good is our true legacy. Some of the less noble spirits in the community have had successful careers. Some have moved upward from business to the higher levels of public office. Well, this piece also has had some success. The echoes of these melodies can still be heard. It is dedicated to Kathleen Baker. Duration: 17' 30''.
A brilliant pianist, Mr. Uryash kept a busy concert schedule throughout Europe. Mr. Uryash was a frequent recital partner with violoncellist Mstislav Rostropovich. He was a prize winner of the ARD competition in Munich, the Viotti Chamber Music Competition and the Prokofiev Competition. Mr. Uryash performed on Masur Media and Victor records.
Piano Sonata No. 2"Riverside"
The committee for the commemoration of the 250th anniversary of its founding the city of Alexandria, Virginia commissioned my second piano sonata. The premiere was performed by Christine Hagan on July 10, 1999. My gratitude will always be with Mary Alice Deleplane for her suggesting this piece to the Birthday Committee.
The city was to become a significant seaport, but in 1749 it was just plots of surveyed land created by English charter, the waters of the Potomac lapping against river grasses and marsh. The piece begins accordingly, gathering momentum as the music slowly expands and takes shape. The motifs are from two very old Scottish and Black American melodies, taken from the two most prominent cultures of the city's history.
The middle slow movement is my realization of a Hispanic lullaby, its significance being readily apparent. At its conclusion the third and final movement begins. It is a crafting of all three melodies into what, at first, resemble a fugue. But it isn't. As each theme unfolds it co-mingles with the others to telescope into a crescendo of momentum. The work's purpose - the construction that is its narrative - comes together nicely. Duration: 15' 10''.
Mr. Sakata received his DMA in Piano Performance and Double MM in Piano/Harpsichord Performance from New England Conservatory as well as BM in Piano Performance from California State University/Northridge, where he was the recipient of the Bronislaw Gimpel Memorial Award . He has taught piano, harpsichord, composition at Phillips Exeter Academy since 1994. He and his wife, pianist Jung Mi Lee, maintain a busy concert schedule.