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The Art Of The Koto: Complete Edition
CD1: "This recording, the first of four volumes reflecting on the history of the koto, brings together five representative pieces from the classical repertoire for the Japanese koto, composed between the mid-17th and mid-19th century. The music on this disc is largely a product of the daimyo, samurai and chonin merchant-class culture of the kamigata region of Kyoto and Osaka. This style of koto playing, known as the Ikuta school after the great master Kengyo Ikuta (1656-1750), also spread to and became popular in Edo and throughout the country soon after its emergence, but the new performance style championed by Kengyo Yamada (1757-1817) from the late years of the 18th century in Edo became extremely popular there, overwhelming the Edo representatives of the Ikuta school. Now the Yamada school is still largely confined to the area around modern Tokyo whereas many Ikuta school players, like Nanae, are also based there, and the Ikuta school dominates the koto-music scene in most other regions of the country."
CD2: "Volume Two of this series, which features the artistry of the koto player Nanae Yoshimura, comprises six pieces ranging from the core classical repertoire of the 17th century to new works composed in the first decades of the 20th. Two great masters stand out: Kengyo (Kengyo meaning master) Yatsuhashi (1614-85), the founder of the tradition of Japanese koto music played by blind musicians, and Michio Miyagi (1894-1956), the great blind musician of the first half of the 20th century who not only embodied that tradition but opened up exciting new possibilities through his new compositional and performance activities."
CD3: "The third volume of The Art of the Koto, which features the artistry of Nanae Yoshimura, takes us into the second half of the twentieth century. It comprises five works written between 1969 and 1989 for the nijugen, a version of the koto with 21 rather than the traditional thirteen strings. This instrument was developed through co-operation between the composer Minoru Miki and the virtuoso koto performer Keiko Nosaka in 1969."
CD4: "As a companion especially to Vol. 3: Works for Nijugen it contains three more compositions for the nijugen-koto, a modern version of the koto with 20 strings (instead of the 13 strings of the traditional koto). This time, however, the focus is on works for nijugen-koto and an ensemble of Japanese traditional instruments, played by members of Pro Musica Nipponia (Nihon Ongaku Shudan). On this disk two compositions by Minoru Miki can be heard: Tatsuta-no-kyoku written in 1971 is one of his earliest solo compositions for the new instrument nijugen-koto which was 'invented' in 1969 (Track 7). The other is his Concerto Requiem for nijugen-koto solo and an ensemble of Japanese instruments (Track 1), one of Miki's most important works written in 1981. Tracks 2-6 include a piece in five movements by the versatile composer Takashi Yoshimatsu (*1953). Originally written in 1998 for nijugen-koto solo and a trio of European instruments, it was newly arranged in 1999 for an ensemble of Japanese instruments to be performed during 'Pro Musica Nipponia the 156th regular concert' on 8th August 2000 in Tokyo."