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.
The mandolin orchestra “Il Mare” from Chiba in Japan has posted about twenty videos in its youtube channel.
The orchestra weas founded in 2008, the first concert was given in 2009. The videos contain pieces from the concerts in 2009 – 2013, the sixth concert is planned for this year.
I have compiled the videos in my playlist:
Videos by the Mandolin Orchestra “Il Mare” – Chiba
The following pieces are included:
Rome und Julia
Godfather II – Immigrant
Perl Fisher’s Tango
Marine Fantasy von Hiro Fujikake
The Spirit of Nature by Hiro Fujikake
Some Enchanted Evening 魅惑の宵 (R. Rodgers)
New Cinema Paradiso Medley
Gavotte – Serenade by Amedeo Amedei – “One of the most performed pieces composed for Mandolin orchestra. Performed by IL MARE Mandolin Club, an amateur Japanese mandolin club in Chiba, Japan from its forth regular concert held in 2012. “>One of the most performed pieces composed for Mandolin orchestra.”
Suite Spagnuola by Claudio Mandonico
Slavischer Tanz Nr. 10 von A. Dvorak
Stabat Mater by Hiro Fujikake
Fantasia Kyusyu (Hiro Fujikake)
Serenate Napolitane by Primo Silvestri – “A lovely Italian piece by Primo Silvestri, arranged for mandolin orchestra. Performed by IL MARE Mandolin Club, an amateur Japanese mandolin club in Chiba, Japan from its fifth regular concert held in 2013. “>
Dances for the Mandolin & the Moon (Richard Charlton) – “A fascinating mandolin orchestra work, partly inspired by one of Picasso’s most beautiful cubist works, Girl with a Mandolin, composed in 2005 by Richard Charlton, who is widely recognized as one of Australia’s leading composers and guitarists. Performed by IL MARE Mandolin Club, an amateur Japanese mandolin club in Chiba, Japan from its fifth regular concert held in 2013. “>
Mandolin orchestras from Japan are known for playing arrangements of music from computer games. I have recently discovered this great example, a version of Battle at the Big Bridge / Clash on the Big Bridge from Final Fantasy V played by the mandolin orchestra of the Yamagata Higashi High School:
Clash on the Big Mandolin Ensemble
Performed by the Yamagata Higashi High School in a music contest.
This music has been composed in 1992 for Final Fantasy V, a game for the Super Nintendo SNES. It is interesting that this music is still popular after more than 20 years.
【FF5】CLASH ON THE BIG BRIDGE【GUITAR】
I have found versions of this piece for mandolin, guitar, string quartet or sinfonic orchestra and have collected the best videos in my playlist. In some of the videos you can see the animations from this computer game.
Playlist “Clash on the Big Bridge” – Final Fantasy V
“Battle at the Big Bridge” (ビッグブリッジの死闘, Biggu Burijji no Shitō?, lit. “Battle to the Death on the Big Bridge”), also known as “Clash on the Big Bridge” or “Battle with Gilgamesh” is a theme from Final Fantasy V. It was composed by Nobuo Uematsu in 1992.