Mari Kodama’s profoundly nuanced yet natural musicality and her unique ability to unite tonal expressivity with a clear sense of form have made her a leading international pianist. An authoritative Beethoven interpreter, Mari Kodama earns consistent praise for her virtuosity across a broad range of repertoire that includes orchestral, chamber, and solo works by composers of all eras.
Ms. Kodama will highlight her mastery of such diverse repertoire during her 2017/2018 season as she presents various piano concertos around the world. In the fall, she will perform Mozart’s Double Piano Concerto with her sister Momo Kodama and the Düsseldorf Symphony under Michiyoshi Inoue. She will also play Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 with the Nagoya Philharmonic Orchestra in Japan, once more with Michiyoshi Inoue, and Carl Loewe’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Szczecin Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra in Poland conducted by David Coleman. Her concerto performances will continue in 2018 at the Sherbrooke Symphony Orchestra in Canada with Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 conducted by Stéphane Laforest. In the spring, at the invitation of Vadim Repin, she travels to Novosibirsk for the Trans-Siberian Art Festival, as well as to the Netherlands, where she appears again alongside her sister Momo Kodama in a duo recital. Later in the season, the two will also perform together in Elmau, Germany, and Mari Kodama will complete her cycle of all Beethoven Sonatas in Japan, which started in summer 2016, playing the last three sonatas in Osaka, Nagoya and Tokyo. The format had been exceptionally well-received by audiences in both Japan and the United States.
In addition to her concert performances in 2017/2018, Mari Kodama will adjudicate the invitation-only participants competing in the Orchestre de Chambre de Paris’ Play-Direct Academy’s final round of performing and conducting. She will also serve as the President of the jury of the Busoni International Piano Competition.
Beethoven’s piano works form a focal point of Mari Kodama’s recording activities, and her interpretations have become standard-setting. She is one of few female pianists to record the composer’s complete sonatas, and her 2014 boxed set release (Pentatone) of these pieces – an 11-year-long project – received critical acclaim. She has also recorded Beethoven concerti Nos. 1-5 and the Triple Concerto with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin under Kent Nagano (Berlin Classics).
In 2018, the Pentatone Classics label, with whom Mari Kodama shares a long-term collaboration, will release her recording of Martinu’s Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra, together with Momo Kodama and the Orchestre Philharmonique de Marseille conducted by Lawrence Foster. In 2016/2017, two recordings (also with Pentatone) were added to Mari Kodama’s extensive discography: Noches en los jardines de España by Manuel de Falla, recorded with the Orchestra de la Suisse Romande under Kazuki Yamada, and Tchaikovsky Ballet Suites for Piano Duo with Momo Kodama. Mari Kodama’s other recordings include concertos by Chopin and Loewe with the Russian National Orchestra (Pentatone) and Prokofiev concertos Nos. 1 and 3 and Sonata No. 7 with the Philharmonia Orchestra of London (ASV).
Since her New York recital debut at Carnegie Hall in 1995, Mari Kodama has performed with leading orchestras and conductors and at renowned concert halls around the world. Past orchestral highlights include appearances with the Berlin Philharmonic, the London Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO), the Philharmonia Orchestra, the Bamberg Symphony, the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin (DSO), the NDR Symphony Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, the American Symphony Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal and the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, among others. In her native Japan, she has performed with the NHK Symphony Orchestra in Tokyo along with the symphony orchestras of Kyoto, Hiroshima and Osaka.
Through her performing activities, Mari Kodama has brought infrequently heard gems of the piano repertoire to global audiences. She has performed Stenhammer’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in Gothenberg and in New York and has also collaborated with Viviane Hagner on Alban Berg’s Chamber Concerto for Piano and Violin, which they performed with both the Jyväskylä Sinfonia and the DSO. Additionally, in 2013 Mari Kodama premiered Jean-Pascal Beinthus’ Double Piano Concerto together with Momo Kodama and the Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte Carlo. Mari Kodama also performed in the Canada premieres of Jörg Widmann’s Valse Bavaroise and Humoresken, both at the Canadian Orford Festival in Summer 2010.
Alongside contemporary works, period instrument performances have formed part of Mari Kodama’s musical career. She has presented concerts of Beethoven sonatas as part of the old instrument series at both the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra in San Francisco and the Beethoven Festival in Bonn. Mari Kodama’s recital appearances have taken her throughout Europe, including to Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Austria, and France, as well as to Japan, Mexico, Canada and much of the United States. She often performs with her sister Momo Kodama, her daughter Karin Kei Nagano, and her husband Kent Nagano.
Mari Kodama’s festival appearances include the Salzburg Festival, the Verbier Festival, the Festival International de Piano La Roque d’Antheron, the Aldeburgh Festival of Music, Mostly Mozart in New York City, the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, Kissinger Sommer, and regular appearances at Les Folles Journées Festival in Nantes and Japan.
In addition to festival performances, Mari Kodama plays an active role as a music festival artistic director. She co-founded and runs the Forest Hill Musical Days Festival, a cooperative chamber music festival in San Francisco, with her husband Kent Nagano, and she has also led the chamber music series at the Orford Music Festival.
The 2016/2017 season saw Mari Kodama achieve critical praise for her worldwide performances. Highlights included Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 at the Vorsprung Festival of the AUDI Sommerkonzerte in Ingolstadt, Arnold Schoenberg’s Piano Concerto with the Lübeck Philharmonic Orchestra led by Ryusuke Numajiri, and Martinu’s Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra with Momo Kodama and the NDR Radiophilharmonie in Hannover under conductor Lawrence Foster. Mari Kodama and her sister also presented works by Poulenc and Saint-Säens with the Osaka Century Orchestra. Mari Kodama’s 2016/2017 concert appearances in Japan additionally included a multi-city tour with cellist Danjulo Ishizaka. She wrapped up the 2016/ 2017 season as a jury member for the year’s Van Cliburn competition.
Mari Kodama was born in Osaka and raised in Germany and Paris. At the Conservatoire National in Paris, she studied piano with Germaine Mounier and chamber music with Genevieve Joy-Dutilleux. She has also worked with Tatiana Nikolaeva and Alfred Brendel. Mari Kodama was appointed as a Steinway Artist.