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2017-10-15 NY Phil, Paavo Järvi, Leif Ove Andsnes (10/12)

[] The New York Philharmonic perfomed Salonen, Rachmaninoff and Sibelius under Paavo Järvi w/ Leif Ove Andsnes

October 12, 2017 (Thurs) @ David Geffen Hall - 7:30 PM


On Thursday, the first half of The New York Philharmonic concert under the baton of Estonian conductor Paavo Järvi opened with Esa-Pekka Salonen's 1998 composition Gambit (revised in 1999), the NY premiere of a nine minute piece for a large symphony orchestra of overture character. In this short piece, a few archetypes emerged in various different formations and circumstances to unfold thrillingly intertwined layers of sounds. It began with soft sounds of simple tones on the pentatonic scale, penetrating the air like fine rays of light to create a serene atmosphere, gradually growing into a translucent mixture of colorful chords. Järvi brought out clear sounds with a brisk tempo from the orchestra with his fresh approach. The vivid, sharp-pointed contrast in the passages between pianissimo and fortissimo was striking - evoking in me a sparkling northern European sunlight swiftly changing its brightness and softness while reflecting on the vast water surface of the Baltic Sea (which mesmerized me once when I saw it from the Kiel harbor). The rich sounds of the string and the brass sections conjured the fullness of the water of the sea - filled with vital spirit, evoking lively dances of cheerful water nymphs. The imaginative power in this nine minute piece of Salonen's was dazzling. The surging waves of the bright sounds expanded vigorously in several passages, but not with heaviness or massiveness at all - instead with a light clean texture with Järvi’s clear-cut conducting, which elegantly united the entire piece into a silky flow.

The Salonen's piece, which swept through the hall with its northern European coolness, was a perfect overture for Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes' performance of Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 4. Crystal-clear tones of Andsnes' piano highlighted the cool, translucent texture of the orchestra's sounds with natural touches. His rhythm and tempo were as sharp as Järvi's conducting, creating a perfect chemistry with the orchestra throughout the piece. His solo in the second movement was breathtaking - so intimate and unpretentious that it felt as if he was playing the piano for his close friends at home. After the coolness of Andsnes' piano sounds breathing in the ethereal air, in the last movement, the orchestra swelled up to a vast expanse of music with a poignant coda which reminded me of Shostakovich's symphony, surging toward a spectacular ending.


In Sibelius's 5th Symphony, in the last half of the concert, Järvi surprised me with a fresh liveliness which I did not expect from this rather unpopular Symphony. His fast-paced conducting brought out crisp and vibrant sounds from the New York Philharmonic, blowing away all the extravagant phrasings and old-fashioned soundings from my memory like an exhilarating sea breeze. It sounded completely different from the past recordings of other conductors/orchestras I had heard before. The brass instruments’ solos were incredibly graceful, reminding me of the polished, silky tones of the brass section of the Orchestre de Paris - which I heard before with Järvi’s conducting on some CDs. While changing the textures of sounds from extremely delicate nuances like in the slow movement of Mozart to uplifting beats like in the scherzo of Beethoven’s symphonies, Järvi navigated the orchestra freely with his pliable, precise conducting, and the orchestra responded to him briskly. The resulted music was deeply compelling with the essence of the piece directly touching our hearts, filled with earnest intensity and sincerity of the conductor and the musicians. In this performance, Järvi and the orchestra liberated this Sibelius' 4th Symphony from heaviness and excessiveness of the old era, while extracting the maximum lyricism of the Romantic music very clearly.

Although these three pieces are rarely heard at classical music concerts, the program of the day was one of the most exciting sets of music that I have experienced live. Salonen's nine minute piece cleared the air and filled the hall with a cool breeze, accentuating the contemporary freshness of the two subsequent early-modern compositions of the Romantic composers. The birth of music does not mean just the moment when a composition was made by a composer, but also the moment when a fresh interpretation of a conductor and a perfect realization by the orchestra stun us with its freshness - like Paavo Järvi and The New York Philharmonic did on this day.

(The New York Philharmonic, Paavo Järvi, Leif Ove Andsnes will perform on the same program on Saturday Oct. 14 and Tuesday Oct. 17)


[] Jürg Frey - L'ÂME EST SANS RETENUE l (ErstClass 002-5)


Jürg Frey's L'ÂME EST SANS RETENUE l (ErstClass 002-5) is officially released from Erstwhile Records today (10/6). This is so far my favorite package I have ever designed. The cover art was inspired by Jürg Frey's first composition/artwork Stück (1975) #36, which has the same design except with a German sentence instead of the French title of this 5 CDs. (You can see Jürg's original artwork here.)


PRESS RELEASE (Oct. 7, 2017)

Jürg Frey - L'ÂME EST SANS RETENUE l (ErstClass 002-5)

Swiss composer Jürg Frey's six hour long electronic tape piece L'ÂME EST SANS RETENUE l was recorded and assembled in 1997/98 and is now being released for the first time. It is the longest piece Frey has ever composed in his over 40 year career.

In this piece, Frey utilized the sounds of field recordings he made in Berlin in 1997 as the source materials, alternately inserted between long stretches of silence. Frey was particularly focusing around that time on how the dynamic relation between sound and silence can affect our perception of the silence in a frame of space and time. By using the environmental sounds of field recordings and silence as materials, which was an unusual method of composing music at that time, Frey created a subtle but captivating flow over the six hours in which nearly imperceptible pitches, rhythms, dynamics, textures, overtone - all emanating from the natural environment - are faintly consonant with each other. “It’s about how ‘normal’, ‘regular’ things are transformed – by the work of composing, by decisions, by intuition, by the ear – to an art work.” (Jürg Frey)

The title “L'ÂME EST SANS RETENUE” is a quotation of a single, isolated sentence from French poet and writer Edmond Jabès’s book Désir d’un commencement, Angoisse d’une seule fin (Desire for a Beginning, Dread of One Single End). The simple clear-cut structure and slightly enigmatic, ambiguous air of Frey’s L'ÂME EST SANS RETENUE l echo with the world of Jabès’s book, in which a large portion of white space (silence) is distinctly present between blocks of sentences and a list of evocative keywords create introspective, silent, distant atmosphere.

5 CD set: $42 plus shipping ($30 for lossless digital DL file)


More info on Jürg Frey




[] My new essay on Jürg Frey's L'ÂME EST SANS RETENUE composition series

“It’s about how ‘normal’, ‘regular’ things are transformed - by the work of composing, by decisions, by intuition, by the ear - to an art work.” - Jürg Frey (8/16/2017)


My new essay on Jürg Frey's L'ÂME EST SANS RETENUE composition series has been published online in the issue 4 of surround journal.

Borders Disappear - Jürg Frey’s l’âme est sans retenue composition series (9/22/2017)

"Inspiring, among others, a profound and meaningful piece about L'ÂME EST SANS RETENUE. Thoughts about this piece and the connection of my music to art and poetry by Yuko Zama." - Jürg Frey


Jürg Frey - L'ÂME EST SANS RETENUE l (ErstClass 002-5)



[] Opening Gala Concert of NY Philharmonic 2018 w/Jaap van Zweden



2017年9月22日(金)@David Geffen Hall - 8PM


English review is here





















[] My Year-End List of 2016


Top 10 Releases of 2016 (classical + experimental genres)


1. Keith Rowe – The Room Extended (ErstSolo)


1. Michael Pisaro/Reinier Van Houdt – the earth and the sky (ErstClass)


3. Mitsuko Uchida - Mozart Piano Concerto No. 17 in G major / Piano Concerto No. 25 in C major (Decca)


4. Toshiya Tsunoda – Somashikiba (edition.t)


5. Jürg Frey/Quatuor Bozzini – String Quartet No. 3/Unhöbare Zeit (Edition Wandelweiser)


6. Nikolaus Harnoncourt/Concertus Musicus Wien - Beethoven Symphonies Nos. 4 & 5 (Sony Classical)


7. Seong-Jin Cho/Gianandrea Noseda/London Symphony Orchestra - Chopin: Piano Concerto No. 1 and Ballades (Deutsche Grammophon)


8. Dante Boon - For Clarinet (And Piano) (Jürg Frey on clarinet) (Another Timbre)


9. Michael Pisaro/Christian Wolff - Looking Around (Erstwhile)


10. Khatia Buniatishvili - Kaleidoscope (Sony)

10 more notable releases in 2016


Stephen Hough/Andris Nelsons/the City of Birmingham Symphony - Dvořák & Schumann: Piano Concertos (Hyperion)


Murray Perahia - J.S. Bach : The French Suites (Deutsche Grammophon)


Steven Isserlis/Paavo Järvi/Philharmonia Orchestra - Elgar & Walton: Cello Concertos (Hyperion)


Kyohei Sorita - Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 2, Paganini Rhapsody (Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI/Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra/Andrea Battistoni) (Nippon Columbia)


Michael Pisaro/Radu Malfatti – Invisible Landscapes (Austin New Music Co-op)


Gil Sansón - Untitled (for Pierre Boulez) (Bruno Duplant/Daniel Jones) (rhizome.s)


Olivia Block - Dissolution (Glistening Examples)


Taku Unami/Devin DiSanto (ErstLive)


Suidobashi Chamber Ensemble (Wakana Ikeda/Yoko Ikeda/Aya Naito/Masahiko Okura/Taku Sugimoto) – s/t (Meenna)


Matthew Revert/Vanessa Rossetto - Earnest Rubbish (Erstwhile)

Older releases I enjoyed listening in 2016


Radu Lupu - Complete Recordings (28CD) (*especially the discs below)

CD 1: Mozart - Piano Concerto No.21 In C Major, K.467 (Radu Lupu, English Chamber Orchestra, Uri Segal)

CD 7: Schubert - Piano Sonatas Nos.16 & 18

CD 10: Schubert - Piano Sonatas Nos.13 & 21

CD 11: Schubert - Impromptus Op.90 & 142

CD 12: Schumann - Kinderszenen etc

CD 22: Mozart - Sonata in D for 2 Pianos; Schubert: Fantasia in F Minor (Murray Perahia, Radu Lupu)

CD 23: Schubert - Violin Sonata in A, D.574; 3 Sonatinas (Szymon Goldberg, Radu Lupu)

CD 24: Schubert - Fantasia in C, D.934 (Szymon Goldberg, Radu Lupu)


Pierre Boulez conducts Mahler (*especially Symphony No. 9)

Pierre Boulez conducts Stravinsky (*especially The Rite of Spring)

Ian Bostridge/Mitsuko Uchida - Schubert: Die Schöne Mullerin

Andras Schiff/Yuuko Shiokawa - Schubert: Fantasien D 760, D 934

Andras Schiff - J.S. Bach: Das Wohltemperierte Clavie

Stephen Hough - In The Night

Stephen Hough - A Mozart Album

Stephen Hough/Bryden Thomson/English Chamber Orchestra - Hummel: Piano Concertos Op. 85 & 89

Stephen Hough/Andrew Litton/Dallas Symphony Orchestra - Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos / Paganini Rhapsody

Michael Tilson Thomas/San Francisco Symphony - Mahler Symphonies (*especially No. 2, No. 9, Das Lied von der Erde)

Michael Tilson Thomas/Boston Symphony Orchestra - Stravinsky Rite of Spring

Michael Tilson Thomas/San Francisco Symphony - Bernstein: West Side Story

Borodin Quartet - Shostakovich: Complete String Quartets

Andris Nelsons/Boston Symphony Orchestra - Shostakovich Under Stalin's Shadow - Symphony No. 10

Kurt Masur/Gewandhaus Orchester Leipzig - Beethoven Symphonies (*especially No. 4, No. 6, No. 9)

Vaclav Neumann/Gewandhausorchester Leipzig - Gustav Mahler: Symphonie Nr.5

Rafael Kubelik/Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra - Gustav Mahler: 10 Symphonies (*especially No. 2, No. 9)

Claudio Abbado/Lucerne Festival Orchestra - Mahler Symphony No. 2 (Blu-ray)

Hiroshi Wakasugi/Staatskapelle Dresden - Mahler Symphony No. 1

Mariss Jansons/Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra - Shostakovich Symphony 7 Live

Marris Jansons/St. Petersburg Philharmonic - Shostakovich: Symphony No .7

Kirill Kondrashin/Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra - Shostakovich: Complete Symphonies

Wolfgang Sawallisch/Staatskapelle Dresden - Schumann: Symphony No. 2

Giuseppe Sinopoli/Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra - Schumann: Symphony No. 2

André Cluytens - Ravel: Bolero/Rapsodie Espagnole/La Valse (2011 - Remaster)

Arthur Rubinstein/Henryk Szeryng/Pierre Fournier - The Rubinstein Collection, Vol. 73: Brahms Piano Trio No. 3 / Schubert Piano Trio No. 2

Arthur Rubinstein - Rubinstein: Vol. 54 Schubert Sonata, Fantasie, Impromptus

Emil Gilels - Beethoven: Piano Sonatas Nos.21, 23 & 26

Emil Gilels/Reiner/CSO - Gilels Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1 & 1812 Overture (1955)

Khatia Buniatishvili - Motherland

Nikolaus Harnoncourt/Lang Lang/Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra - Mozart Album (*Piano Concerto No. 17)

Alexander Melnikov/Isabelle Faust - Faust plays Schubert: Fantasie in C major, Violin Sonata, Rondo brillant

Alexander Melnikov - Shostakovich: The Preludes and Fugues

Alexander Melnikov - Scriabin: Piano Works

Matthias Kirschnereit - Songs Without Words (Complete Edition)

Pieter Wispelwey - JS Bach: 6 Suites For Cello Solo

Duke Jordan - Flight to Denmark


Top 10 Orchestra Concerts of 2016 - Symphony, Concerto, Opera, etc.


1. The Cleveland Orchestra / Franz Welser-Möst at Carnegie Hall, NYC

Hans Abrahamsen - Let Me Tell You (Barbara Hannigan, soprano)

Shostakovich - Symphony No. 4


2. San Francisco Symphony / Michael Tilson Thomas at Carnegie Hall, NYC

Schubert - Symphony No. 8, "Unfinished"

Mahler - Das Lied von der Erde (Sasha Cooke / Simon O'Neill)

3. San Francisco Symphony / Michael Tilson Thomas at Carnegie Hall, NYC

Copland - Piano Concerto (Inon Barnatan, piano)

Schumann - Symphony No. 2

4. Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra / Mariss Jansons at Carnegie Hall, NYC

Shostakovich - Symphony No. 7 “Leningrad”

5. The Cleveland Orchestra / Mitsuko Uchida at Carnegie Hall, NYC

Mozart - Piano Concerto No. 17 in G Major, K. 453

Mozart - Piano Concerto No. 25 in C Major, K. 503

6. Minnesota Orchestra / Osmo Vänskä at Carnegie Hall, NYC

Sibelius - Violin Concerto (Hilary Hahn, violin)

Sibelius - Symphony No. 1

7. Orchestre symphonique de Montréal / Kent Nagano at Carnegie Hall, NYC

Ravel - La valse

Stravinsky -The Rite of Spring

8. Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra / Valery Gergiev at Carnegie Hall, NYC

Mussorgsky Pictures at an Exhibition (orch. Ravel)

9. New York Philharmonic Orchestra / Bernard Haitink at Lincoln Center, NYC

Mahler - Symphony No. 9

10. New York Philharmonic / Jiří Bělohlávek at Lincoln Center, NYC

Beethoven - Piano Concerto No. 3 (Kun Woo Paik, piano)


(6 More Orchestra Concerts)

11. MET Opera / Gianandrea Noseda at Met Opera, NYC

Bizet - Les Pêcheurs de Perles

12. The English Concert / Harry Bicket at Carnegie Hall, NYC

HANDEL - Orlando (​Iestyn Davies, Erin Morley, Sasha Cooke, Carolyn Sampson, Kyle Ketelsen)

13. NHK Symphony Orchestra / Tadaaki Otaka at NHK Hall, Tokyo

Elgar - Variations on an original theme op.36 “Enigma

14. Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra / Semyon Bychkov at Carnegie Hall, NYC

Mahler - Symphony No. 5

15. The Philadelphia Orchestra / Yannick Nézet-Séguin at Carnegie Hall, NYC

Haydn - Symphony No. 103, "Drumroll"

Bruckner - Symphony No. 4, "Romantic"

16. Baltimore Symphony Orchestra / Marin Alsop at Carnegie Hall, NYC

Kevin Puts - The City (film by James Bartolomeo)

Mahler - Symphony N. 5

Recitals of 2016


1. Mitsuko Uchida at Carnegie Hall, NYC "BEST OF 2016"

Berg - Piano Sonata

Schubert - Four Impromptus, D. 899

Schumann - Piano Sonata No. 1 in F-sharp Minor

2. Stephen Hough at 92Y, NYC

Schubert - Sonata in A minor D784

Franck - Prelude, Chorale and Fugue

Hough - Sonata III (Trinitas)

Liszt - Valses oubliées nos. 1 & 2

Liszt - Transcendental Etudes nos. 11 & 10

3. Khatia Buniatishvili at Carnegie Hall, NYC

Mussorgsky - Pictures at an Exhibition

4. Ian Bostridge/Thomas Adès at Carnegie Hall, NYC

Schubert - Winterreise


[] フランツ・ウェルザー=メスト指揮クリーヴランド管弦楽団ショスタコーヴィチ交響曲第4番


2016年1月17日(日)7:00PM開演 @カーネギーホール

The Cleveland Orchestra conducted by Franz Welser-Möst


Hans Abrahamsen - let me tell you (NY Premiere) by Barbara Hannigan (soprano)

Shostakovich - Symphony No. 4




クリーヴランド管、 何てすごいオーケストラなのだろう。カーネギーホールがこんな清浄な空気に包まれたことはない。先日他界したピエール・ブーレーズに捧げられたという今日の公演。もしブーレーズショスタコーヴィチを指揮していたら、こんな演奏だったかもしれないと思わせる透明感と凄みのある演奏だった。どちらの曲も演奏が終わった後、ウェルザー=メストがそのままの姿勢で指揮棒を15秒くらい下ろさず、ブーレーズへの思いをその場にいた全員で共有するように、沈黙の中でじっと静止していた。今までにカーネギーホールで体験した、最も深く濃い沈黙の時間だった。


最初の演目、ハンス・エブラハムセンの新作「let me tell you」(NY初演)では、演奏後、割れるような拍手が長い間続いていた。菅と弦とソプラノが、同じ高音を出している時の、絹のような音色の驚くべき一体感。しんと静まり返ったホールに響く、高音ピアニッシモのヴァイオリンの合奏部では、柔らかな質感の透明な衣が優雅に舞いながらホールの空間に広がり、客席を包み込んでいくような、この世のものとは思えない妖艶な、それでいて清らかな美を醸し出していた。


現代音楽曲の新作の指揮で大きな拍手喝采を浴びるのは、通常はヴァーチュオーゾと呼ばれる巨匠指揮者だけだが、日曜のカーネギーホールでは、クリーヴランド管を指揮したフランツ・ウェルザー=メストが、ハンス・エブラハムセンの新作「let me tell you」のニューヨーク初演の後に、まさにその拍手喝采を浴びていた。(NYタイムズ紙 1/18/2016)





















* * * * *






CD: Shostakovich: Symphony No. 4(Bernard Haitink / Chicago Symphony Orchestra)






[] マイケル・ティルソン・トーマス指揮サンフランシスコ交響楽団マーラー交響曲第2番「復活」


Michael Tilson Thomas & San Francisco Symphony - Mahler Symphony No. 2






この盤は、「Mostly Classic」のバックナンバーの2011年のマーラー特集(デジタル版)で、山ノ内正氏が優秀録音盤の1枚として推薦していた盤(SACD)なのだけど、私のニアフィールド・リスニング環境で聴いてもこれほどの感動があるのだから、もっと本格的なオーディオ装置で(大音量で)聴いたら、爆風に飛ばされるくらい感動しそうだ。できればハイエンドのパワフルなオーディオ機器で、誰にも気兼ねなく、ゆっくりじっくり聴いてみたいと思わせる名盤だ。


イサベル・バイラクダリアン (S)

ロレーン・ハント・リーバーソン (Ms)


ヴァンス・ジョージ (合唱指揮)

マイケル・ティルソン・トーマス (指揮)









[] 揺らぎのある音楽



あの頃、いくつかの音楽の中におぼろげに感じていた「揺らぎ」というのが一体何だったのか、マイケル・ピサロの音楽(特に「an unrhymed chord」や「Harmony Series 11-16」)を聴くようになってから、より明確に見えてきたような気がする。音楽の中に感じ取る「揺らぎ」とは、未知の体験と結びついているのではないかと思う。たとえば、1の次は2、2の次は3…というように、一定の規則に従って流れていくはずの線上に、ぼんやりと「1+1/2」のような数字が半透明に現れたり、3の次に来るべき数字が消えかかっていたり…というように、何か意外なことが起きて、脳に組み込まれている既存の現実感覚を揺るがす瞬間に、脳は「揺らぎ」を知覚するのではないだろうか。


Music with Fluctuations

About ten years ago, I talked about 'music with fluctuations' at one of the lecture series held every Saturday at a jazz cafe in Tokyo, where music writers and critics gave small lectures each week while playing some music (mostly jazz) under certain themes they chose. For my turn, I decided to do a personal interpretation of the music I was especially interested in at the time rather than a formal lecture. Also, since I had not yet been exposed to a wide range of music back then, my choices of music were embarrassingly narrow - some from contemporary jazz, some from minimal electronics. But one thing I particularly remember is that I was strongly fascinated with something like ‘fluctuations’, which I found in some of the music.

In those days, I was not able to explain why I was so strongly attracted by 'fluctuations' in music, and did not fully grasp exactly what kind of musical phenomena caused the fluctuations. I just noticed that in the process of some music developing (supposedly) under a certain frame of the music along with the flow of time, sometimes there was a moment when a subtle change appeared like a waver and stirred the music as if the music were almost going slightly off balance. Sometimes it was a little tremor of a voice, or a moment when a soft sustained electronics sound started slightly wavering, or a moment when I thought I perceived a hidden unexpected tone under the present chord. Those changes were almost unrecognizably subtle like small events happening in a micro world, and seemed to be missed easily with casual listens. But for me, they created a vivid (and fascinating) moment as if I were falling into a black hole or the reality was fading out in front of me for a moment, which almost caused me a light dizziness. What I perceived then could be some 'sound movement’ that I had never experienced before. Or it may not have been an actual sound movement; instead it could have been just an impression in my imagination via some particular element (or some combination of multiple elements) that had somehow brought the images of fluctuations into my brain.

These images of fluctuations in music, which I had only faintly sensed in those days, are now much clearer to me since I started listening to Michael Pisaro's music (especially 'an unrhymed chord' and 'harmony series 11-16'). The fluctuations I perceived in the music, I now think, seem to be connected with ‘the unknown’. For example, if there is a straight line on which regular numbers are supposed to appear one after another like '1' followed by '2' then by '3'. But if some unexpected number like '1+1/2' appears as a half-translucent image between numbers, or if the number supposed to follow '3' is somehow almost invisible, our established sense of reality is momentarily shaken with the unexpected event - and this must be the moment when we experience a 'fluctuation'.

Along with the subtle resonances of the harmonic overtones that bring actual wavers in the flow of the sounds - just like magic, the moment when our established sense of reality is challenged, could be when we see the entrance to the unknown time and space (which is slightly away from reality). This experience activates the listener's imagination - just like some invisible sentence seems to emerge in between printed lines of sentences on a paper if imagination is involved. When a listener encounters these fluctuations in the music, his/her brain which used to rely on predictions unconsciously and just follow the flow of the music (reality) passively before, suddenly starts working actively for the first time – then the listener starts listening to the music more carefully, trying to explore something which may be hidden under the music (and silence) beyond the actual sounds and silences.


[] ブラームスの交響曲とウィーンの森





(photo from Wikipedia)

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