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JOJI YUASA PIANO WORKS / MILESTONES ON THE KEYBOARD

マイルストーンズ・オン・ザ・キーボード / 湯浅譲二ピアノ作品集Ichiro Nodaira(pf)

MSCD-0009 2,625yen Sold Out now

"Special Recomended CD of the month" ( Record Geijutsu Magazine )

Among all the kinds of instruments, I am particularly fond of the piano. I have been fascinated with this instrument and especially to the sonority from its massive reverberant body. (Joji Yuasa)

Recorded:May,1999,Chichibu Muse Park
Producer/Engineer: Kaz Ishikawa

Liner notes

The piano has been one of the most important instruments for the composer Joji Yuasa. In fact, his first piece, Two Pastrales, premiered in a concert of the3 young avant-garde artist group Jikken-Kobo in 1952, was scored for piano solo. Since then, Yuasa has written a number of solo piano works. They have been widely performed and frequently recorded by many outstanding pianists. In such pieces as Towards "The Midnight Sun"--homage to Ze-Ami--for tape and amplified piano (1984) and Piano Concertino (1994), the piano is further employed as a solo instrument. It is also noteworthy that the piano often plays an important role in many of Yuasa's chamber and orchestral pieces.

This CD entitled Milestones on the Keyboard is the very first recording to include all of Yuasa's nine solo piano works composed thus far (with the single exception of the graphically notated Projection Esemplastic written in 1961). The pieces on this disc are dated from 1952 (Two Pastrales) to 1997 (Melodies), spanning practically the entire period of Joji Yuasa's creative activities up to the present. They appear on the disc in chronological order so that the listeners may experience the development of Yuasa's creativity with piano music.

In his other compositions, Yuasa has employed a wide variety of sound sources such as the orchestra, chamber ensembles, electronic and computer generated sounds, Japanese traditional instruments, and voice. He has often written music for TV, radio, film, and theater as well. Therefore, not all of the characteristics in Yuasa's music can be found in his piano works. However, since the piano is particularly close to him, many of the essential elements in Yuasa's music are present in these pieces. A few examples follow: his determination to search for the original and the new, the clear, deep-penetrating and rich sonorities, the polychronic and multi-layered time structure, and the archaeological as well as cosmic sonic images tracing questions from the origins of musical creation. These are some of the fundamental elements that underlie his piano pieces. It is important to note that these features are discovered, sometimes in a transformed fashion, throughout his creative work.

The recording session for this CD project was the first occasion for Ichiro Nodaira to perform Yuasa's solo piano pieces. During the recording session, the encounter between two extraordinary musicians immediately proved to be fruitful and productive. Nodaira's overwhelming pianism, grounded on his rich musicality, perfect performance technique, accurate understanding of the scores, deep intellectual capability, sincere devotion to music, and the ability to balance and control the sounds in every detail,fully reinforced the sound world of Yuasa's musical cosmology. Nodaira never sacrifices the profundity, richness, or subtlety in the sounds that he produces. His performance is filled with detailed expression and fully controlled timbral variations, ranging from the subtle to the dramatic, the delicate to the dynamic, the warm to the sharp, and the subdued to the brilliant. His technique in performing complex passages is outstanding. His keen ability to grasp the structure of music accurately maximizes the flow of the sonic energy that is pre-calculated in the score.

The sonic world elicited through Joji Yuasa's cosmology is informed through a succession of constant renewals of things established as well as things projected into the future. Ichiro Nodaira, an extraordinary concert-pianist/composer, accepted the challenge to explore this world with all his heart, mind, and strength, and successfully arrived at a summit via a personal and new approach. The CD title, Milestones on the Keyboard, is valid not only because each recorded piece is a milestone in the piano repertoire, but also because Nodaira's performance reaches historical significance. This CD has decidedly opened a door to a new and unexperienced world of music.

Hiroyuki Itoh, composer

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