Akira Wakabayashi
piano | Japan, °1965
 
PIANO 1987 : Second Prize
Already one of Japan's leading pianists, Akira Wakabayashi is gaining increasing international recognition through his performances in the U.S., Canada and Europe, where his technique and artistry have won him praise from the critics and audiences alike. Having built up an enviable reputation for his profound interpretations of Beethoven and Brahms, he has in recent years become known for his dramatic and passionate performances of music of the Romantic era.

Receiving his earlier musical education at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music High School, the Mozarteum Academy, where he studied with Hans Leygraf, Akira Wakabayashi completed his graduate studies in 1994 at the Hochschule der Künste, Berlin. Whilst still a student he came to the forefront of the international musical community by winning second prizes at both the 1985 Busoni Competition and the 1987 Queen Elisabeth Competition.

In 2005, in addition to numerous recitals around the country he gave a highly acclaimed series in Tokyo entitled 'The World of Chopin and Rachmaninov' where he was praised for 'the richness of his imagination and the masculine power of his playing.' In recent years, he has been heard internationally in the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series, Chicago (2004 and 2005), in France at the Folle Journee de Nantes (2004), making his acclaimed New York debut at Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall (2002), in Music Toronto's Chamber Music Series (2002) as well as in the 'Amorina Piano Recitals' in Stockholm. In May 2005 he was invited to conduct master classes at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester.

A keen chamber musician, Akira Wakabayashi performs in Japan and overseas with musicians such as Steven Isserlis, Francois Leleux, Karl Leister, Sayaka Shoji, Radek Baborak, Nobuko Yamazaki and the Vienna Oktett. He performs regularly with all the major Japanese orchestras and is invited to play with various European orchestras, including the Russian National Symphony Orchestra/Spivakov, Scottish Chamber Orchestra/Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Berliner Symphoniker, Orchestre Pasdeloup, the Limburg Symphony, Goteborg Symphony and the Norrkoping Symphony Orchestras.

In 1997, Mr Wakabayashi became a Live Notes label recording artist, releasing CDs including Brahms' Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel, a live recording of his Kioi Hall Rachmaninov recital, all three Brahms sonatas as well as Stravinsky's Three pieces from Petruschka.

In recognition of his services to music in Japan, he has received the Hidemitsu Award (1992) and the Mobil Award (1998).
Audio
Programme
Final (28/05/1987)
Piet Swerts Rotations
Alban Berg Sonata op. 1
Sergey Rachmaninov Concerto n. 3 in D minor op. 30
Akira Wakabayashi, piano
National Orchestra of Belgium, dir. Georges Octors
Semi-final (13/05/1987)
Johann Sebastian Bach Prelude and Fugue n. 14 in F sharp minor BWV 883
Willy Carron Paesaggi con Bach
Robert Schumann 12 Etudes symphoniques op. 13
Ludwig van Beethoven Sonata n. 31 in A flat major op. 110
Akira Wakabayashi, piano
Piano 2020 postponed to May 2021
How the competition unfolds
H.M. Queen Mathilde
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