To quote the liner notes, this unusual disc is a kind of love song ‘from and for Japan, the eternal, and eternally fascinating – a country that reconciles every opposite in arts which stretch across millennia, a volcanic comma placed as a breathing space before the Pacific…‘ The acclaimed saxophone player Claude Delangle has long been intrigued by Japan, as demonstrated already ten years ago with the disc ‘The Japanese Saxophone‘ (BIS-CD-890). From that disc we recognize a number of composers (Masakazu Natsuda, Toshio Hosokawa, Fuminori Tanada, Ichiro Nodaira) as well as the percussionist Jean Geoffroy, a longstanding collaborator of Delangle‘s. Unlike the previous, all-Japanese disc, the present programme includes works by two French composers, Bertrand Dubedout and Hacène Larbi, who have also become fascinated by the enigma of Japan. Apart from Ryo Noda‘s Improvisation I for solo saxophone, the programme consists of various combinations of voice, saxophone and percussion. By incorporating vocal works, a further dimension has also been added: the poems used by the various composers span a millennium – from the three poems by court-lady Izumi Shikibu (born c. 976) used in Hosokawa‘s Three Love Songs, to a text by Mikiro Sasaki (b.1947) – and are the fruits of highly different environments: from the imperial court of classical Japan to the thought worlds of Zen monks and the Ainu aboriginal tribe respectively. Mezzo-soprano Marie Kobayashi applies her expertise in contemporary music and her interpretative gifts to this universe of thoughts and feelings, closing the programme with an atmospheric recitation of a poem of unrequited love by Shimazaki Toson, one of the great figures in Japanese 20th century literature.
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