The Ensemble Hikari 光 has been invited to the show „Kaffee oder Tee?“ (coffee or tea?) of the German TV Station SWR on January 3rd, 2014. Now three videos have been made available at youtube.
The ensemble has been founded by mandolin players from Germany and Japan and it aims to make music by Japanese composers better known in Germany by their performances. In the TV show they played three pieces by Japanese composers Takashi Yuasa, Goshi Yoshida and Kunisaku Sakai.
The members of the ensemble Hikari are Denise Wambsganß (Germany, mandolin), Yasuyoshi Naito (Japan, mandolin), Hirotaka Nozaki (Japan, mandola), Michael Schwitzke (guitar) and Leo Ruf (percussion). Yasuyoshi Naito is a luthier for mandolins who has been living and working in Germany since the 1980s. He has built the Cremonese mandolin (four single strings) that is played by himself, as well as the mandola.
I have found many videos of works via Falbo, mostly played by Japanese mandolin orchestras. In this post I want to present the works by Salvatore Falbo Giangreco.
Ouverture in Re min
The first video in the following playklist is a recording with the orchestra Arte Tokyo conducted by Yasunobe Inoue. This orchestra playes a longer version of the Ouverture in D minor which has been edited from the original score. The following videos show the official version of this often played ouverture.
Danza a vespro – Serenatella – Alba di Festa
The third movement “Alba die Festa” has been played in the All Japan Mandolin Competition – the third video shows a compilation of many performances of this 3rd movement from the competition.
Spagna – Suite in four movements
Serenata Castigliana – Jota e Canzone (the second and third movement are played together as one movement) – Bolero
Recently I have listened to videos of the composition Azzurro for solo mandolin by Daigo Marumoto. This is a nice, dreamy composition for the mandolin, and so there are quite some videos of this composition played by the best Japanese mandolin players.
My favorite video besides the version by Masataka Hori at the beginning of the playlist is the following – with some reverb added to the sound which makes it sound like played in a big hall – and you can see the right hand of the player very well:
There is also a video where this piece is played on a mandola. The mandolin solo version by Tatiana Cro – one of the few mandolin players not from Japan in this playlist – is also very good, but the sound is very noisy, so it is not much fun to listen to it with headphones…
Daigo Marumoto has also composed two versions of Azzurro for mandolin orchestra. This is the fantastic, incredible version with the Japanese mandolin orchestra Arte Mandolinistica conducted by Yasunobo Inoue:
丸本大悟 / AZZURRO /ARTE MANDOLINISTICA+ARTE TOKYO
You can find the mandolin orchestra versions also in my playlist, including the video played by the GCEA mandolin orchestra from Madeira which plays only the second part.
Playlist Azzurro by Daigo Marumoto
There is a short discussion about this piece in the Mandolin Cafe Message Board: Daigo Marumoto
The sheet music for this piece is only available in Japan – unfortunately…
I have just found the following video in the youtube channel of WAMU, a complete Open Mic show of two hours, with performances by Danny Paisley & The Southern Grass, Gold Heart and Akira Otsuka.
Inspired by this video I had to search around for more information about Akira Otsuka, his band Bluegrass 45, John Duffey and Bluegrass in Japan.
The program of the Open Mic Show starts with a highlight for mandolin players – Akiro Otsuka plays a set of solo pieces on his mandolin. Most of the pieces can be found on his new CD First Tear.
Akira Otsuka is a Japanese mandolin player who played in a Japanese Bluegrass band named Bluegrass 45. This band was invited to the USA in the 1970s and played several concerts. Rebel Records produced several records with Bluegrass 45. Akira Otsuka decided to come back to the USA in the 1970s and has stayed there until today. He has played with many musicians – you can find more information on his website (see below).
Akiro played a beautiful set of mandolin solos on his old Gibson mandolin that had previously been owned by John Duffey.
Open Mic: LIVE from WAMU, 6/20/2014
On June 20, WAMU’s Bluegrass Country presented a special live edition of Open Mic featuring performances from Danny Paisley & The Southern Grass, Gold Heart, and Akira Otsuka.
Some Screenshots form the Video showing Akiro Otsuka and his mandolin:
I have compiled some information about Akiro Otsuka, his band Bluegrass 45 and his mandolin below. I did not have time to listen to the rest of this Open Mic Show, but I am sure that the other two bands are great too!
AKIRA OTSUKA first toured the U.S. with legendary “Bluegrass 45,” the first and most influential Japanese Bluegrass band to hit these soils. Since that time, Akira has been acknowledged and honored in both the U.S. and Japan for his outstanding abilities on the mandolin. Highly sought as an accompanist and session player on guitar, banjo and bass as well as mandolin, Akira has shared the stage and recorded with many of the genre’s greatest artists, including Emmy Lou Harris, Nils Lofgren, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Ricky Skaggs, Bela Fleck, Jethro Burns, Danny Gatton, Hazel Dickens, Bill Kirchen and Peter Rowan.