Hosokawa's Melodia II was originally written
in 1977 as a piano work, and revised in 1979. This arrangement for accordion,
by the featured soloist, Mie Miki, is authorized by the composer. Very
effective it is, too: from the opening sound (so like a clarinet) throughout
its slow-moving, hypnotic nine-minute duration it weaves a pentatonic
spell which sets the tone for the rest of the disc.
It is certainly to be hoped that this disc means people
listen to the accordion in a new light: the variety of tone contained
on this disc is remarkable. The title Melodia refers to 'the
never ending stream of sounds in our soul', rather than any melody in
the Western sense, and Hosokawa certainly uses the registral device
of contrasting higher notes against the 'sinister' lower register effectively
Hikaru Hikashi's picturesquely-titled A Bee Crosses
Over the Strait suffers from the disadvantage of undeniable tedium.
Eminently forgettable. Far more interesting are the pieces by Maki Ishii
(whose ballet, Kaguyahime, has just been released on Arthaus
DVD 100162). Lost Sounds II features glacial pre-recorded tape
sounds over which the accordion narrates and comments. Tango-Prism
(1987) does exactly what the title says, viewing the Western dance form
through a distortional mirror.
The experience of Takahasi's Like a Water-Buffalo
is heightened by Miki's reading of the poem in Japanese which inspired
the piece immediately before the composition itself,. Sugawara's Capriccio
Pastorale (inspired by Frescobaldi) is charming. Ruscello
was composed with the idea of using it as an encore after a performance
of his Accordion Concerto, but, as the sleeve notes say, 'things did
not go to plan' and Ruscello had to wait rather a long time for
its first performance.' It is, however, a dextrous study which Miki
plays charmingly. The excerpts from Ayuo's Eurasian Tango are
stimulating: the final piece acts as a fun ending to the disc.
Mie Miki's belief in this repertoire shines through
her playing. Little of this music is of ground-breaking originality,
but this disc does represent a journey into relatively uncharted waters.
See also review
by Peter Grahame Woolf