Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Shin-Ichiro Ikebe, Teizo Matsumura, Akira Nishimura|
Classically Cutting Edge Koto
Crazy Fox | Chicago, IL USA | 12/11/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Among all the koto CDs I've heard, this one's something of an oddball. First of all, of course, all eight tracks feature the unusual seventeen-string koto with its deeper sound, and the weirdly somber lower octaves heard here showcase this koto's characteristics quite noticeably. Sometimes the album almost sounds like a lost alternate soundtrack to Kobayashi Masaki's "Kwaidan" or something. Secondly, the five composers of these selections seem to be primarily known as contemporary composers of Western-style classical music, and they're going out on a limb a little composing for a traditional instrument--well, sort of one, since this kind of koto was developed as late as 1921. The resulting music sounds a bit avant-garde for koto music, minimalist and atonal in true twentieth-century fashion at its most extreme but unfamiliar even at its most accessibly neo-traditional. A few tracks even evince what sounds like a subtle Central Asian tinge. Each composer has a slightly different style, of course, but all the selections are played by the same performer, so the CD holds together well in a unified fashion rather than sounding patched together haphazardly.
Finally, this is one of the few koto CDs I know of wherein the composers are still alive and so wrote the liner notes themselves, explaining their own creations in their own words (in Japanese and in English translation). This is about as contemporary as it gets with koto CDs available in the States; I wouldn't recommend it for anyone wanting an introduction to the standard sound and repertoire of the Japanese koto, but for any long-time koto listeners or connoisseurs of modern classical music looking for something well off the beaten path, this is an aesthetically challenging but eminently listenable oddity of a gem.
"Nabari" (Tracks 1-3) was composed by Yoshimatsu Takashi in 1992.
"Kageru" (Track 4) by Ikebe Shin'ichiro in 1994.
"Kumanagi" (Tracks 5-6) by Nishimura Akira in 1992.
"Air of Prayer"(Track 7) by Matsumura Teizo in 1984.
"Tamaogi-Koto" (Track 8) by Sato Somei in 1994.
Kikuchi Teiko performs on the seventeen-string koto, accompanied by Shigemitsu Eiso on percussion for "Kumanagi" and Mitsuhashi Kifu on shakuhachi flute for "Tamaogi-Koto.""