Kimiko Ishizaka





The remarkable German pianist Kimiko Ishizaka, of Japanese heritage, who received worldwide attention and recognition in 2012 for her innovative recording of Bach’s “Goldberg Variations,” went on to perform Book I of  Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier in a twelve-concert tour during the 2013-14 season.  Recitals took place at the Beethovenfest Bonn in Germany, Prague, Munich, Vienna, Hamburg, and Ruiselede, Belgium. Ms. Ishizaka’s North American dates took her to Ann Arbor, MI, the Pianoforte Foundation in Chicago, Pittsboro, NC and the University of South Carolina, Columbia.  Each of the performances was made available internationally online. Highlights of the tour was Ms. Ishizaka’s piano selection in front of a live audience at Vienna’s Bösendorfer Factory for her upcoming recording of the Well-Tempered Clavier in Berlin’s Teldex Studios in spring 2014, a concert and panel about open source music publishing at the GRIN Verlag in Munich, Germany, and a performance at the Manifold Recording Studios in Pittsboro, NC in front of a small selected audience in a salon-like setting inspired by the 19th century salons of Europe.

During the 2017-18 season, Ms. Ishizaka will continue her dedication to the music of Bach. In September, she will release recordings of The Art of the Fugue, a follow-up to her aforementioned recording of the “Goldberg Variations.” Later in the season, she will perform The Art of the Fugue at recitals at the Elbephilharmonie and at Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall.

When Ms. Ishizaka previously played Book I of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier in New York at the WMP Concert Hall, the New York Times’s long-time classical music editor James R. Oestreich, who was present at the recital,  characterized her as "a gifted and obviously devoted Bachian” (The New York Times, September 25, 2012). Initially, Ms. Ishizaka, wanting to make Bach accessible to as many people as possible, released the recording of the WTC Book I directly into the public domain, making her playing available to all via the internet, as a Kickstarter-funded project  - an initiative that brought praise in the pages of Gramophone and Fanfare:

“Ishizaka's interpretation is characterised by straightforward musicianship, immaculate technical aplomb, and a warm, beautifully modulated sonority. Counterpoint passes back and forth between the hands in a conversational and judiciously balanced manner, while a strong lyrical impulse informs the cross-handed variations' rapid, bravura passages.”
— Jed Distler

“She has the fleet fingers to speed through the virtuoso variations with compelling clarity and the sensitivity to probe the dramatic potential of the slower, more profound numbers, pleasurably aided by her consistently lovely tone. “
— Robert Schulslaper, Fanfare Magazine

Born to German-Japanese parents in Bonn, Germany, Ms. Ishizaka began her piano studies at the age of four, first with her mother, and then with Professor Roswitha Gediga-Glombitza at the Hochschule für Musik Köln. Further instruction came from Prof. Peter Feuchtwanger, Prof. Karl-Heinz Kämmerling, the Alban Berg Quartet, and the Amadeus Quartet.

Early on, Kimiko distinguished herself as a soloist and chamber performer, especially in the context of the Ishizaka Trio, which consisted of her and her younger brothers. She and her two siblings founded the Ishizaka Trio, which won numerous awards, including the 1998 German Music Competition prize, and received enthusiastic critical and artistic acclaim. When Kurt Masur, Music Director of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, heard the trio perform, he exclaimed, “these three siblings play with an extraordinary musicality, huge impetus, and amazing balance.”

Since 2000, Ms. Ishizaka has devoted herself to a solo career, performing numerous recitals and as soloist with orchestra throughout Europe and North America. She has established a fine reputation for her interpretations not only of Bach, but Chopin as well. 

 “[Ishizaka] opened the evening with excerpts from Chopin's Préludes op. 28 and Etudes op. 10 and showed not only her formidable technique, but also much feeling and sensibility for the subtle tones between the notes.” – Guido Krawinkel, Bonner General-Anzeiger

Away from the piano, Ms. Ishizaka devotes much of her time to the study of English language and literature and to sports.