During the Meiji Restoration (1868-1912) a broad diffusion of Western music flowed into Japan, first in the form of military band music and. later, Protestant hymns. By 1900, recitals of piano, violin and song were quite popular. Composers like Prokofiev, and performers such as Heifetz, Kreisler and Segovia also encouraged this musical direction, which strongly followed German Romanticism and French Impressionism. The new Western repertoire found a place with the traditional Japanese music, hdgaku, and as the two traditions came in contact, a new and unique form of music emerged. One of the most fascinating developments in Japanese music was the introduction of new instruments in the south of Japan, and their metamorphosis as they migrated north via Kyoto and Tokyo. Several composers on this disc have focused on natural themes, with water being a favourite and obvious choice. The works have been chosen to give a sampling of the diversity of Japanese music, from the beautiful, traditional folk-songs to the complex and challenging multi-movement works, many of which evoke the traditional instruments, namely shakuhachi and koto.
Flautist Sharon Bezaly with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and Lan Shui here play the music of three composers who are all resident in the USA, but have their roots across the Pacific Ocean, in China. Philosophical, musical and literary aspects of this Chinese heritage are in evidence in the works recorded here.
Its evident from hearing the jazz big band works of composer, arranger, conductor and trombonist Henry Wolking’s debut album on Big Round Records, IN SEA, that he effectively mixes complexity with simplicity in his jazz harmonies and colorful orchestrations that make for an exciting and memorable listening experience. The inspired solo work of band members and guest artists add to the sincere and fresh cosmopolitan character of the recording.