Between a Zen garden and the bog: Izumi Kimura, Asymmetry

A recital CD of Japanese and Irish piano music might sound at first like an odd prospect. But for Japanese-born, Irish-resident pianist Izumi Kimura it’s an opportunity to contrast subtle, eternal naivety with colour, humour and emotion. Musically the two worlds come together extremely effectively in two pieces from Mamoru Fujieda’s Patterns of Plants II. These are based on digital analyses of the bioelectric fluctuations on the surface of a plant’s leaves, a way of hearing the plant’s ‘voice’. That might sound like sterile ground from which to begin, but Fujieda’s compositional choices give rise to cycling motifs, ringing fourths and fifths, and delicately curling melodies. On the neutral sonic territory of the piano they sound eternal and solemn, vast yet intimate, singing of both Ueno and Antrim.

Actually, I’m so bowled over by these two beautiful miniatures that the rest of the disc is hard to follow. Among my favourites of the remaining pieces, Takashi Yoshimatsu’s Apple Seed Dance is touchingly playful and Akira Miyoshi’s Mouvement Circulaire et Croisé II enigmatic and impressionistic. (It is the most interesting, I think, of the three Miyoshi pieces here.) Kimura is restrained in the two pieces by Gerald Barry, the best-known composer of this recital, taking time to build up a full head of steam in his Triorchic Blues and Swinging Tripes and Trilibubkins.

Leading Irish composer Ronan Guilfoyle is represented in two rhythmic and energetic pieces – Dance Suite no.1 and Toccata and Feud – and an interview with him and Kimura has been produced by the CMC Ireland:

This  disc is one of a set of four produced by the Irish label Diatribe as Solo Series Phase 1; the others feature the performers Isabelle O’Connell, Paul Roe and Simon Jermyn, and I hope to review them all soon.

new music::new Ireland 2 reviewed

My review of new music::new Ireland 2, a concert given at King’s Place a week or so ago, is up now on Musical Pointers:

The second of two autumn concerts organised by the Contemporary Music Centre, Ireland, brought representatives of Ireland’s more lyrical streams of composition to King’s Place. The performers on this occasion were Iona Petcu-Colan and Michael McHale, both young players little-heard here, but with impressive international CVs.

Perhaps as a result of having to squeeze several pieces into a short (one-hour) recital, their programme choices didn’t present the most musically profound statements in recent Irish music. Nevertheless, there was enough here to hint at greater depths for those wishing to explore further. (The CMC are very accommodating in this respect, producing a series of free promotional CDs. As an introduction to and survey of the state of Irish music these can be highly recommended.)

Continue reading here.

More New Irish Music at King’s Place

Tonight at King’s Place sees the second of two concerts of new Irish music for violin and piano. (For my review of the first concert, see here.) In Solos and Duos for Violin and Piano: 2, Ioana Petcu-Colan (violin) and Michael McHale (piano) explore the lyrical side of contemporary Irish music, taking as a starting point the individual sounds worlds of the violin and piano.


Ian Wilson drive and spilliaert’s beach (both available on this recommended CD)
Philip Hammond midnight shadows and elegiac variation
Ronan Guilfoyle the 2nd – mouth music – and 4th movements from his
sonata for solo violin
Philip Martin homer blues and two elegies

More info and tickets here.