Toru Takemitsu is widely regarded as the greatest Japanese composer of the 20th century. After the appearance of Folios in 1974 he was acknowledged as a formidable master of writing for the guitar, bringing to the instrument a sensibility and imaginative flair which have seldom been equalled. In the Woods was his final composition. Shin-ichi Fukada and Leo Brouwer were both close friends of Takemitsu, and this programme includes Brouwer’s two heartfelt homages in his memory.
"Gemeaux" (1971-1986) is one of Takemitsu's grandest works in terms of musical arc, scoring and length of gestation. It is written for two orchestras with two conductors, and with solo trombone at one orchestra and solo oboe at the other. As half of it was written during Takemitsu's "modernist apogee" of the turn of the '70s, we find a host of extended techniques, and at one point the soloists even speak through the mouthpieces of their instruments. As the other half of the work belongs to Takemitsu's late period, we find a successful of elegant self-contained gestures, his musical "gardens". The synthesis of two creative periods, however, makes for a piece singular in its impact in Takemitsu's oeuvre.
The new box contains no fewer than three different Williams recordings of that most popular of all guitar works, Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez – from 1964 with the Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra, from 1974 with Barenboim and the English Chamber Orchestra, and from 1983 with Frémaux and the Philharmonia Orchestra – plus a performance of its much-loved Adagio in Williams’s celebrated 1993 “Seville Concert”.
With Sun/Moon, Somei Satoh speaks with the ancient, distinct voice of Buddha, with enough melodramatic romanticism to stir the emotions of even the most Western ears. Perhaps less cinematic than his previous album, Toward the Night, but no less passionate in tone, with gorgeous, rich dialogue between shakuhachi and koto that circulates between whispers, cries, gasps, and deep contemplation. The opening piece, "Kougetsu," is the sound of a rock garden minding its own business, a dragonfly dreaming restlessly amongst the bamboo. "Sanyou" follows in much the same way, in an expression of (as the composer puts it) "the purity of the early morning air." Shin Miyashita plucks his 17-string koto with patience, reverence, and in perfect symbiosis with Akikazu Nakamura, a stoic virtuoso on the shakuhachi.
Reissue with the latest remastering. Features original cover artwork. Comes with a descripton in Japanese. A real gem from Woody Shaw's greatest period – a very hip sextet session, recorded with Hayes, Cook, Shaw, and a rhythm section that includes Ronnie Matthews on piano, Stafford James on bass, and Guilhermo Franco on percussion. Tracks are long, and stretch out in that searching, modal style that Shaw was using a lot at the time – and although the Hayes/Cook team are listed as the leaders on the set, the record clearly owes a lot to Shaw's influence and style. A wonderful record that we just don't turn up often enough! Titles include "Ichi Ban", "Book's Bossa", "Pannonica", "Brothers & Sisters", and a great take on "Moontrane".
South Korean singer Yeahwon Shin’s ECM debut, “Lua ya” is a gentle album of songs and lullabies, recorded in 2012 in the spacious acoustics of Mechanics Hall, near Boston. It’s a very intuitive set, shaped by “improvising, listening to our childhood memories and letting the music flow”, as Yeahwon says. Shin and pianist Aaron Parks played together just once before the present recording, finding “an instant improvisational connection” which is further explored here. Accordionist Rob Curto shares with Yeahwon an affinity for Brazilian music and has collaborated with her previously (in contexts including her Latin Grammy-nominated album “Yeahwon” on ArtistShare).