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Do you like dogs and cats? When the pianist Kazuya Saito performed Saint-Säens’ “The Carnival of the Animals” at an music festival, he was asked to perform another piece featuring animals as an entertainment. The name of the piece is ” Impromptu sur la valse du petit chien de F. Chopin pour tous les amoureux des chats (Improvisation on Chopin’s Minute Waltz – For Cat Lovers)”. It is a wonderful fusion of Chopin’s “Minute Waltz” and “The Flea Waltz” we have all heard at least once. While retaining the elegance of “Minute Waltz”, the piece is full of capriccio-like character and improvisational elements, and is designed to be a very lively encore piece.
Foreword by Kazuya Saito
“Are you a dog person or a cat person?” People often discuss this subject. I had a dog at my parents’ house and originally liked dogs more than cats. However, after I met the cat “Minou” that was kept at a supermarket near Paris where I was studying, I became a cat person (Unfortunately, the dream of having a cat hasn’t come true yet).
In 2011, I was invited to the “Yatsugatake Hokuto International Music Festival” where the late Minoru Miki was the music director, and I was suggested to have other animals appear on the piano solo as a small entertainment before the performance of “The Carnival of Animals” composed by Camille Saint-Saëns.
The first two pieces came up to my mind were Chopin’s “Minute Waltz”(“Valse du petit chien” in French) and “Flohwalzer,” (cats appear in the Japanese version). But these might cause a controversy of “Are you a dog person or a cat person?”. So to avoid this serious discussion, I came up with the idea of mixing the two parts and that is how this “Impromptu sur la Valse du Petit Chien de F. Chopin” was born. Since then, I have often performed this piece as an improvisation in encores and outreach, and I have decided to transcribe it on the score for this publication.
Keeping the elegance of Chopin’s “Minute Waltz”, I added a Capriccio-like character and improvisational elements to make it a virtuoso piece. I would like this to be played freely, without being bound by notation, and respecting the inspiration and ideas of the performers. Various cats such as dog-like cats, shy cats, and spoiled cats appear in the piece, which is exactly “many cats, many minds”. I hope you find a lot of cats (I can’t count how many) in this piece.
Saito began playing the piano and composing music at the age of four. After graduating from Tokyo University of the Arts, he moved to France, where he graduated from the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris with highest honors. He then moved to Berlin, where he graduated with the highest honors from the master’s program at the Berlin University of the Arts.
He won numerous prizes including Steinway Prize by Steinway Haus Berlin in 2018 (Berlin, Germany), 2nd prize at the Artur Schnabel competition in 2017 (Berlin, Germany), 1st prize at the Massarosa International Piano Competition in 2016 (Massarosa, Italy), Finalist prize at 18th Paloma O’shea Santander Competition in 2015 (Santander, Spain), 4th prize at the Maria Canals Music International Competition in 2015 (Barcelona, Spain), 1st prize at the Campillos International Piano Competition in 2014 (Campillos, Spain), 1st prize at the Virtuoses du Futur International Piano Competition in 2010(Crans-Montana, Switzerland), Finalist and ‘Madame Gaby Pasquier’ special prize for the best performance of Fauré at Marguerite Long-Jaques Thibaud International Competition in 2009 (Paris, France), 3rd prize at the Spanish Composer International Piano Competition (Madrid, Spain). In Japan, he received the 2nd prize and audience prize scoring the highest in the final in the concerto in All Japan National Competition in 2013 (Tokyo) and the highest prize (2nd prize) at the Tokyo Music Competition in 2006 (Tokyo).
He has performed many orchestras such as Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, New Japan Philharmonic Orchestra, Tokyo Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre National de France, Radio Symphony Orchestra of Spain, Munich Chamber Orchestra, and others. In recent years, he has been invited to perform solo recitals at music festivals in Paris, London, and Valencia. He has also been actively involved in chamber music and duo ensembles, and is well known as a chamber musician. He hold the recital every year in Tokyo and Paris, for abroad also he had a recital in London, Segovia, Valencia, Saint, Berlin, Munich etc. His International Music festival jointed are: Villefrance-de-Rouergue Music Festival in 2010, Sommets du Classique Crans-Montana in Swizerland in 2011 and Saintonge International Piano Festvival in 2015 etc.