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Wednesday, February 8, 2023

RAM Tokyo to New York, Six Quintets for Flute, Clarinet, Harp, Percussion and Piano


RAM (Random Access Music) this past December 11, 2022 put on a special concert entitled "Tokyo to New York" in Martha Graham Studio One in Manhattan. Very happily they made a very high quality recording of the proceedings and as happily sent me a CD-R  of same so I could experience it all in spite of being stuck in the bottom of New Jersey at Exit Zero on the Garden State Parkway. I've been listening and enjoying the whole of it numerous times and I now report in on it for you.

The concert sparkled with some six quintets for flute, clarinet, harp, percussion and piano as played by, respectively, Lish Lindsey, Thomas Piercy, Tomina Parvanova, Josh Perry and Tengku Irfan. There is a luminescence, a liquidity of sound color to each of these works that to me suggest the poeticism of a thoroughly enchanting musical passage from Tokyo to New York.

Each work has a sound fingerprint of its own all within the sort of Impressionist-shaded High Modernism of contemporary Tokyo and the parallel fine shades of New Music Manhattan from, say, the New York School of Cage, Feldman and so forth through to today.

So we bask in the sonic brilliance of Joji Yuasa and his "A Winter Day" -- Homage to Basho (1981), of Frances White and her "Phases of the Moonflower" (2022), of Gilbert Galindo his "Where are You, Spirit Most High" (2022), of Yoshio Hachimura and his "Breathing Field" (1982), of Masatora Goya and his "Deep Dive" (2022), and finally of Toru Takemitsu and his "Rain Spell" (1982). 

If you think of classic solo Shakuhachi music and classic Japanese Nature Poetry, of classic Japanese woodblock print art, and then perhaps classic Western Impressionist music of Debussy and how in his special ways he carried over the aesthetic of such things to Western music and then the US Modernists, then perhaps we can think of the passage from there and back as a series of full circles.

The music at hand has in its three 2022 premieres and its three Japanese works from the 1980s a fully fleshed out Modern Art of high beauty. The RAM Quintet gives us hauntingly idiomatic readings of this music, winning projections of great soundscaping art. I hope they see fit to release this concert on a commercial recording.  It surely deserves to be heard--and  I hope Random Access Music (RAM) can  give us many further concerts like this  for us to appreciate. Bravo!

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