Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Koto Music Of Japan
Genres: World Music, Pop
Koto Music Of Japan by Zumi-Kai
Listen to Samples
Koto Music Of Japan by Zumi-Kai
Not Exactly the Greatest Koto CD Ever
Crazy Fox | Chicago, IL USA | 05/23/2006
(2 out of 5 stars)
"You know, I hate to badmouth this CD. It was the first CD dedicated to koto music that I could get my hands on back in the old days, and I listened to it lovingly many a time. But there's just no way around the fact that it is mediocre.
First of all, the sound quality of the CD is flat and dull, and there's this low level hum in the background. The information on the disc is minimal, so there's no way to tell if it's a CD rerelease of an old LP--but even if it is, one can remaster the thing so it doesn't sound like a bootleg or something. As for the music itself, the performance is competent enough but a bit generic and uninspired; sometimes the pace at which they are playing seems overly slow, like just a bit quicker than the pace I used to go when I was practicing the koto as a beginner and amateur--that said, they do pick it up some in "Midare" and this is one of the stronger tracks on the CD.
The liner notes are utterly unhelpful and tell you pretty much nothing about what you're supposed to be listening to. Never mind information on the individual tracks, it doesn't even tell you much of anything about the koto itself or its music, instead sticking to the vaguest bland generalizations about "Oriental Music". You'd never guess from the notes that most of these musical pieces were composed in the 1600's by Yatsuhashi Kengyo, the guy who pretty much made koto music as we know it today (imagine a CD saying "here's a 5th Symphony from Germany" without telling you it's Beethoven's!). Worst of all, the performers aren't even given credit and remain anonymous; while not koto maestros, I'm sure they did their level best, and their efforts deserve acknowledgment. Finally, while we're on the subject, the CD cover totally gives away the lack of care that went into this product: a Kabuki actor has about as much to with koto music as Arnold Schwarzenegger has to do with a piano piece by Chopin.
About the only thing this poor CD has going for it are the musical selections themselves. These are all good old standard classics of the koto repertoire and are the basic essentials for an appreciation of this great form of music. Of course most of them can now be found on better CDs (I'd especially recommend "The Art of the Koto, Volume One").
So unless you just want a cheap CD to play as background music in your Japanese restaurant or are a manic collector who just has to have every koto CD ever made, pass this one up for better things."
Look behind the curtain
Dennis Sheridan | San Francisco | 07/04/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I just happened to be reading the google for Haru No Kyoku and came to this Amazon page. I read the review by Crazy Fox and was going to make a note to avoid this album if I saw it.. and it turns out this album was what prompted my google for Haru No Kyoku.
It appears the album on this page was originally "Classical Japanese Koto Music", performed by the Izumi-Kai (not Zumi-Kai) Original Instrumental Group, Everest 3206. The playlist is identical. I'm not sure why Crazy Fox felt the quality lacking, as the vinyl album I have on the turntable as I type is as rich in sound as any other well-produced album. I also find the competence of the musicians equal to any other masters of the koto.
Of course, I'm rather new to traditional Japanese music so perhaps my ears are not as discriminating. In any event, the vinyl album from Everest has no hum or background noise and nothing gets in the way of enjoying the ensemble. Just passing this on in case it helps someone.
By the way, the liner notes *are* pretty useless, unless you have no idea what Japanese music is. Like, if you're from another planet, you would be able to gather some sense of what instruments are used and a vague idea of how the music is composed. But for the all the value you'd get out of these notes, they should have saved the printing costs.
(The comment form made me enter a rating. I have not listened to this CD and cannot comment on it or rate it. I am talking about and highly recommending the album from Everest this CD appears to come from.)"