American Record Guide ‘Hagoromo’ CD Review

The Legend of HagoromoLarget-Caplan-cover

FUJII: Legend of Hagoromo; BROUWER: Hika, in Memoriam Toru Takemitsu; TAKEMITSU: Equinox; UENO: Ed è Subito Sera; NAKAMURA: Sui-hou; ARLEN: Over the Rainbow; GERSHWIN: Summertime; SCHREINER: Two Japanese Idylls

Aaron Larget-Caplan, g—Stone 5060192780567
— 57 min

What a fascinating program. Each of the works is connected in some way to Japan. Yes, even ‘Summertime’ and ‘Over the Rainbow’, both of which are arrangements by Toru Takemitsu.

Japan’s most famous composer was also a prolific arranger of popular songs, including several by the Beatles. His arrangements are challenging and rich, though a bit overdone for my taste—like too much makeup on a beautiful woman. Larget-Caplan plays them both with evident affection.

Only two works here are familiar, Takemitsu’s ‘Equinox’ and Leo Brouwer’s ‘Hika, in Memoriam Toru Takemitsu’. Both are free and evocative, dissonant but still mostly tonal; and Larget-Caplan handles their challenges as well as any recording I know. There are three world premieres, written for the guitarist. Ken Ueno’s ‘Ed è Subito Sera’ and Kota Nakamura’s ‘Sui-hou’ were both for Larget-Caplan’s New Lullaby Project (http://www. Newlullaby.com). Martin Max Schreiner reverses Takemitsu and arranges two Japanese songs in ‘Two Japanese Idylls’. Ueno and Schreiner both use bent notes and microtones as one might hear on the Koto.

But the heart of this release is the title piece, Keigo Fujii’s Legend of Hagoromo. It is based legend of a fisherman who falls in love with a heavenly maiden who can fly with her feathered kimono, and musically grows out of a mode from Okinawa. After the beginning, the entire piece seems to be based on a single harmony, exploring that mode without any western-style progression. Tension arises from the rhythmic pulse, as notes, microtones, and percussion effects swirl together to create an amazing energy. It’s an emotional and technical tour de force, and Larget-Caplan carries us on this mythical journey with irresistible mastery.

Larget-Caplan is based in Boston, on the faculty of the University of Massachusetts Boston there, and is a graduate of the New England Conservatory. Kudos for this imaginative and beautifully executed program.

American Record Guide
KEATON
January/February 2016, p. 188

 

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