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  • Toshiro Mayuzumi:  Pieces for Prepared Piano and Strings / Samsara, Symphonic Poem / Essay for String Orchestra
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Toshiro Mayuzumi: Pieces for Prepared Piano and Strings / Samsara, Symphonic Poem / Essay for String Orchestra


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Audio CD, October 12, 2004
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1. Pieces for prepared piano & strings: 1. Prologue
2. Pieces for prepared piano & strings: 2. Interlude
3. Pieces for prepared piano & strings: 3. Finale
4. Samsara, symphonic poem for orchestra
5. Essay for string orchestra

Product Details

  • Orchestra: Louisville Orchestra
  • Conductor: Akira Endo, Robert Whitney
  • Composer: Toshiro Mayuzumi
  • Audio CD (October 12, 2004)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Alliance
  • ASIN: B00061QJE4
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,150,018 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Xenophanes on January 7, 2008
I first became acquainted with Mayuzumi when long ago I picked up the LP of the Louisville Orchestra's recording of the Symphonic Poem, Samsara on Louisville LS-666. Although much of it sounds rather dark and clangy to Western ears, I found it a very satisfying work. I'm not quite sure why, but I have always found it to be quite relaxing, though you very well may not. It is a very highly organized work with a cyclical structure, which is appropriate for a depiction of the cycle of births and deaths. The record jacket and CD booklet explain the philosophy as follows:

"The background from which the life experience arises is suggested by a refrain which recurs to contrast the more dramatic material. For is it reading too much into the music to see in the more vital sections that attempt at purging and purification which, in the Buddhist faith, will allow the soul to transcend the process of reincarnation in the normal state."

I think the darker, slower parts more or less depict Nirvana, while the higher, more percussive parts represent the vicissitudes of desire, which it is the aim of classical Buddhism to eradicate. There is at one point a sort of battle between the drums and the higher winds. I take it that the drums beat down of the winds, beating down unruly desires which lead only to dissatisfaction. This leads out of samsara, the cycle of births and deaths, into Nirvana. One need not be a Buddhist to understand that it depicts a liberation, but one needs to take time to listen to the whole piece. It's just not what we might expect.

There is also a recording of Samsara with the Hong Kong Philharmonic under Yoshikazu Fukumura on Marco Polo 8.220297. It is very well done, too, somewhat slower.
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When First Edition Music (FEM), a label of the Santa Fe Music Group, acquired the rights to the Louisville catalog in the late 1990s, they embraced the laudable task of reissuing the complete Louisville recordings. Sadly, however, some of their offers where so short as to be self-defeating propositions really, and this Mayuzumi disc, after a few others (Crumb: Variazioni, Echoes of Time and the River, Lou Harrison: Suite for Symphonic Strings; Strict Songs, Gian Francesco Malipiero: Piano Concerto No. 3; Nocturne of songs and Dances; Fantasies of Every Day, Alberto Ginastera) is a case in point: a TT of 39:48 simply won't do, even if the music was outstanding. Obviously FEM gave precedence to program coherence over timing, and these scanty 40- minutes are indeed all the Mayuzumi they ever recorded. But surely, with a little imagination, they could have come up with a coherent coupling. Not that they had many other Japanese composers in their catalog that would have made an obvious pairing - in fact they had none (for all their involvement in 20th Century music the Louiville Orchestra never recorded any Takemitsu for instance). But they could have picked the two pieces by Paul Chihara - an American composer but of Japanese descent - that the orchestra recorded: his Saxophone Concerto and Forest Music.Read more ›
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