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|Ryan Scott||Primary Artist, Percussion|
|Esprit Orchestra||Performing Ensemble|
|Kazuo Harada||Cover Art|
|Philip Blackburn||Label Direction|
|David Jaeger||Producer, Mastering|
|Yasunori Yamaguchi||Cover Art|
|Maki Ishii||Composer, Liner Notes|
|Kei Ishii||Cover Photo|
Posted October 12, 2011
Ryan Scott is one amazing player (rare) and Maki Ishii is a real 'guts and glory', modern composer (rarer). It's a win/win situation where after hearing this CD, the two should be made into national treasures from there respective countries (Canada and Japan) What makes it so spellbinding is Scott plays with the ferocity and delicacy of a seducing demon, without one clam articulation, at speeds beyond comprehension, with completely convincingly shaped phrasing. Meanwhile Ishiis' style is ablaze with rapturous pentatonic harmonies (though still in pitch sets) and is not beset by atonal gray murkiness. It's violent and tender, beautiful and extremely ugly. Its austere clarity removes any formal ambiguity -a perfect place for Scott to unleash his powerful musicality.
The first piece is for percussion and orchestra is 'Saidoki' (demon) .The percussion part is entirely improvised by Scott on weird, homemade metal and bamboo percussion instruments. With them, there are lots of effective glisses, bowing, and eerie decays,
creating a strange cornucopia of exotic unpitched/ multipitched sounds. Meanwhile, the orchestra has long stretches of quiet timbre beauty and space contrasted with burst of violent sustainess. The final build is magical, consisting of quasi-contrapuntal/canonic lines in the orchestra starting from extreme pppp to an ffffff huge climax. Overtop, Scott plays a feverish demon-like obbligato like a lunatic. The climax is jaw dropping.
Stylistically, there's a Varese meets Xenakis meets Takemitsu going on---while all the percussion sustain decays and glisses give it an electro-acoustic aura.
The next piece is 'Concertante '(1988) for six percussionists and marimba. Here and in all the subsequent pieces, Scott is playing from memory (?!?!how is that possible?). It starts with a strong gesture followed by lots of space, which Scott fills with really magical timbral/dynamic playing. There's also great playing from the other percussion players. Scotts' very definitive phrasing always keeps the music moving dramatically forward (it helps that he has such an intuitive understanding of Japanese acc/rit phrasing). This is followed by incredibly fast passages and astonishing accuracy in the tripe/quadruple stops. The fortissimos are superheroish in power, on top of being at breakneck speed. The following slow movement (around 9;00 min.) mark a lot of really juicy pitches choices-like Boulez in slow motion-only all the right pentatonic pitches and no ugly12 tone ones. Throughout the piece there's a real originality and sensitivity in the pitch writing--somewhere mid pacific between the western academic tradition and Japanese noh drama. This is followed by a tremolo transition section that veers back to the final climax, which is skillfully handled by Scott and Co.. The music abounds in more otherworldly texture/pitches, while Scott never lets the music drag with a very strong sense of his eventual phrasing goal. The ending is a brief cadenza-like passage, full of incredible playing by Scott and the percussion section, consisting of quadstops and tremolos and lightening fast passages culminating into a huge climax.
The final percussion/orchestra piece is 'South Fire Summer' (1992) and again the orchestra here is like a giant resonator pit or hall for the percussion player. More spacious, beautiful timbres sounds abound, with loud FFFfortissimo interruptions. It has all the ambiance of a tropical jungle while being crushed by