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Yuka Shibuya / Satoko Inoue: Works for Piano

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Yuka Shibuya / Satoko Inoue: Works for Piano
For years the Japanese Ftarri label has enjoyed an enviably high reputation for its releases by improvising musicians from Japan, such as Toshimaru Nakamura and Seijiro Mutayama, as well as further afield, such as the duo of Rhodri Davies and John Butcher, or The International Nothing (clarinettists Kai Fagaschinski and MIchael Thieke). In September 2021, in an adventurous move, a companion label, Ftarri Classical, was launched with three releases, the first of which was Works for Piano. (For those who may be uneasy about the use of "classical" in the new label's name, Ftarri describes it as "specialising in composed works in the contemporary classical genre.")

The music on the album comprises four piano pieces composed by Yuka Shibuya between 2007 and 2018. Shibuya was born in Kyoto in 1981, and graduated from the composition department of Tokyo University of the Arts before being awarded a doctorate by that university's graduate school. Of the four pieces, "Cosmetic Dance" is in four parts, while "Containing Time," the only piece to feature two pianos, is in two parts. The compositions were performed by Satoko Inoue, one of Japan's leading contemporary classical pianists (with Masanobu Shinoda joining her on "Containing Time") and recorded live in concert at Tokyo Opera City Recital Hall, Tokyo, on March 4th 2018. Throughout the album, the sound quality is first rate, every note ringing clear and true.

The three tracks other than "Containing Time" were all composed for Inoue. "Clouds Merging into the Sea, Islands Floating in the Sky 2" was originally a quartet piece for hichiriki, sho, shamisen and piano; for this solo version, Shibuya took the piano part and rewrote it as a solo work; as such, it works very well, never betraying its previous incarnation. The inspiration for "Containing Time" is given away by two of its sub-titles—"Homage to Erik Satie" and "An exploration of metrical structure and phrasing." Its combination of beguiling melodies off set by edgier passages certainly pays homage to the French composer; a lovely piece, all the better for its use of two pianos. Taken as a whole, this album is captivating, every track on it repaying frequent and repeated listening. A most excellent way to launch a new label.

Track Listing

Cosmetic Dance (2007):- A compass performing distorted steps; Ever-changing words of a stranger; By the waves swaying to and fro; A melting candy rolling on the tongue; Clouds Merging into the Sea, Islands Floating in the Sky 2 (2015); Containing Time (2016) for 2 pianos:- Containing Time 1; Containing Time 2; View from the Round Window 2 (2018).

Personnel

Yuka Shibuya: composer/conductor; Satoko Inoue: piano.

Additional Instrumentation

Masanobu Shinoda: piano (6-7).

Album information

Title: Works for Piano | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: Ftarri Classical

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