Takemitsu, Moroi, Kanno, Shono, Hirai

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Hirai,Kanno,Moroi,Shono,Takemitsu
LABELS: BIS
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: The Japanese Cello
WORKS: Orion; Ordre; A Clusters of Stars II; Z-Paraphrase; Sakura-Sakura
PERFORMER: Torleif Thedéen (cello)Noriko Ogawa (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CD-876
Takemitsu aside, all these composers were new to me. But through their music, they emerge as individuals with distinctive voices, revealing a repertoire well worth hearing.

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From the Fifties comes Moroi’s Ordre, six short movements in which 12-note technique is rigorously applied. Thedéen and Ogawa treat the fragmented lines with care and sensitivity.

Writing in the same decade, Hirai shows himself completely unaffected by the intellectual avant-gardism sweeping his country. His charming paraphrase on a Japanese folksong is totally tonal, combining his native folk idiom with the Western music he studied in his boyhood.

The other three works date from the Eighties. Kanno’s Cluster of Stars is loosely programmatic, representing meteorites grouping together to form a new planet. Ogawa’s right-hand battery at the bottom of the keyboard and hypnotic left-hand ostinato represent space, in which Thedéen’s more human, elegiac line has to find its place. Takemitsu’s Orion, his only composition for cello and piano, comes from his orchestral work Orion and Pleiades (1984), characteristically based on number symbolism – the three stars of Orion’s belt. Against its calm, the energetic syncopation of Shono’s Z-Paraphrase is positively Bartókian.

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Thedéen plays throughout with exceptional versatility and flair, ably partnered by Ogawa. Janet Banks