Yuko Kawai plays Pleyel
|Birth name||Yuko Kawai|
Yuko Kawai (河合優子 Kawai Yūko, born in Nagoya, 20 October) is a Japanese classical pianist. She gave the world premiere of Chopin Piano Concertos in E minor Op.11 and F minor Op.21 in the version for one piano as published in the National Edition.
After graduating from Nagoya Municipal Kikuzato High School Music Department, she studied piano, organ, conducting and chamber music under prof. Atsuko Ohori, prof. Both Lehel and Yuzo Toyama at Aichi Prefectural University of Arts and Music. During her postgraduate studies in Aichi, her talent was spotted by prof. Jan Ekier, during his visit to Japan. They met in Nagoya and prof.Ekier invited her to Warsaw. She studied at Chopin Music Academy in Warsaw (Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw) and gained her diploma in 1994.
First encounter with prof.Jan Ekier
Prof.Jan Ekier (August 29, 1913 - August 15, 2014), pianist, composer and the 20th century's world's greatest Chopin scholar - visited Japan five times. His last visit was early in spring in 1990. From Hokkaido to Kyushu, "changing hotels 13 times, meeting very talented young pianists", he gave Chopin lectures and masterclasses all over Japan. In 1990 Kawai was studying at Aichi Prefectural University of Arts and Music and had his lesson in Nagoya. She played Chopin's Sonata in B minor Op.58. After the lesson prof.Ekier immediately told Kawai to come to Poland, to his class at Chopin Music Academy in Warsaw. During the Japan tour prof.Ekier had lessons with over 60 talented pianists, mainly Chopin Competition participants in October 1990, but only Kawai was invited as his pupil. At that time prof.Ekier told the masterclass interpreter about Kawai: "She has great potential. And she has very good hands as a pianist." 
The 13th International Chopin Piano Competition
After receiving the 3rd prize at The International Chopin Piano Competition in Marienbad in July 1995, Kawai took part The 13th International Chopin Piano Competition in October 1995 in Warsaw. The Competition changed her life despite not receiving any prize. TVP, Polish Radio, "Wiadomości Kulturalne" magazine - the media gave Kawai a lot of attention. A Polish leading music critic Janusz Ekiert wrote about her in his article: "She can't go to the next round - this is the capital error." "She is the elite of the 13th Chopin Competition but can't perform at the Competition any longer. Experienced pianists who have performed worldwide, can't understand why."
Polish Radio Program 1 (Pierwszy Program Polskiego Radia) made a 30-minute special radio reportage, featuring her performing and life. After the airing of the reportage in November 1995, suddenly Kawai received a lot of offers and did a 14-recitals concert tour of Poland in February and March in 1996.
Kawai has performed throughout Europe and Japan. She is especially known for playing Chopin, according to National Edition. Since 2001  she has given recitals of Chopin's entire output on the basis of the National Edition - 'Yuko Kawai Chopinissimo Series'.
Chopin: Piano Concerto in E minor Op.11 version for one piano by Chopin, according to National Edition
- world premiere: 17 June 2002, Chiryu, Japan
- Italy premiere: 25 September 2010, Auditorium del Massimo, Rome
- Austria premiere: 6 May 2011, Schönberg Centre, Vienna
Chopin: Piano Concerto in F minor Op.21 version for one piano by Chopin, according to National Edition
- world premiere: 11 August 2004, Chiryu, Japan
- Swiss premiere: 4 November 2017, Stadtverwaltung Murten Konzerthalle
F.Kalkbrenner Piano Concerto No.4 in A-flat major Op.127
- Japan premiere: 17 February 2009, Shirakawa Hall, Nagoya
Central Aichi Symphony Orchestra, Ichiro Saito, conductor
In January 2008, she gave her final performance of the complete Mozart piano sonata cycle in Nagoya and Anjo, Japan.
Yuko Kawai & Chopin National Edition
Kawai met Jan Ekier's Chopin Urtext Edition when she was a junior high school student - Wiener Urtext Edition Chopin Nocturnes. Since she came to Poland to study with prof.Ekier in 1991, she has used Chopin National Edition. Also, in 1991 Kawai found prof.Ekier's thick book "Introduction to the National Edition" at the music shop on Nowy Świat street in Warsaw, bought and began to read.
In 2010 Kawai had her own TV programme series 'Yuko Kawai talks about Chopin National Edition' on CLASSICA JAPAN TV (vol.1-13, July–September 2010). In 2011 the programme won prestigious JSBA (Japan Satellite Broadcasting Association) Original Programming Awards. 
In 2001 Kawai started her long-term historic project "Yuko Kawai Chopinissimo Series".
Playing with historical pianos
Kawai loves to play Chopin with 19th Century's pianos. She has had a lot of experience to perform and record with historical instruments, e.g. Pleyel 1830, Pleyel 1842, Erard 1845, Pleyel 1846, Erard 1852, Erard 1855 and Pleyel 1869. In 2010 Kawai recorded Chopin's 24 Preludes Op.28 and other pieces at Hamamatsu Museum of Musical Instruments with Pleyel 1830.
Kawai has recorded 12 CDs with the BeArTon, PLATZ and IMAGINE label.
Life in Poland
She has lived in Poland since 1991. She obtained permanent residence in Poland in 1999. She stays in London occasionally.