Pianist Tomoko Yazawa always thinks about her music with the future in mind. However, for her latest album, "Playing in the Dark," she made a rare diversion into the past — specifically, France at the end of the 19th century.

Although Yazawa was classically trained at the Toho Gakuen School of Music in Tokyo, she developed her interest in contemporary music through further study at l'Ecole Normale de Musique in Paris under Claude Helffer and from her experiences in New York.

"I have mostly specialized in contemporary piano music rather than digging into the past with classical pieces," says Yazawa, who also commissions contemporary composers to write new compositions for her. "Cutting-edge music offers a glimpse of the future."