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Record Box

Attractive Ideas

Music by
Isotaro Sugata,
reviewed by
PATRIC STANDFORD


Naxos    8.570319

Isotaro Sugata: Symphonic Overture; Peaceful Dance of Two Dragons; The Rhythm of Life; Dancing Girl in the Orient. © 2008 IVY Corporation and Naxos Rights International Ltd

This is an enterprising 'world première' recording of orchestral music by a Yokohama born composer who died in 1952 at the relatively early age of 42. The impression is that he had not fully integrated the many western influences that excited him into a mature personal style, though his music is colourfully orchestrated and has stretches of attractive ideas well made.

In his Symphonic Overture of 1939 there is a distinct influence of Hindemith, drawn from his studies with Klaus Pringsheim, a pupil of Mahler, who was then teaching at the Tokyo University. A year later, he was making greater progress toward an individual voice by introducing Japanese percussion into his symphony Peaceful Dance of Two Dragons, a work in three movements, each devoted to materials from the ancient Gagaku imperial music.

Listen -- JO (Peaceful Dance of Two Dragons) (track 2, 0:00-0:42)
© 2008 IVY Corporation and Naxos Rights International Ltd

The three movements of ballet music from The Rhythm of Life, completed in 1950, betray a greater familiarity with the music of Bartók and especially Stravinsky woven into mysterious and well-orchestrated textures.

Listen -- Misterioso (The Rhythm of Life) (track 5, 0:00-1:34)
© 2008 IVY Corporation and Naxos Rights International Ltd

But it also contains more energetic and clearly more individual orchestral material -- as in the closing episode of the ballet's scherzando movement.

Listen -- Scherzando (The Rhythm of Life) (track 6, 3:54-4:55)
© 2008 IVY Corporation and Naxos Rights International Ltd

In many ways it is a pity that these Japanese composers were persuaded into so much enthusiasm for western models of the early 20th century, but quite understandable. And it was very competently absorbed.

Copyright © 17 May 2008 Patric Standford, Wakefield UK

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Sugata: Peaceful Dance of Two Dragons; The Rhythm of Life

8.570319 DDD Stereo NEW RELEASE 55'28" 2008 IVY Corporation and Naxos Rights International Ltd

Kanagawa Philharmonic Orchestra; Kazuhiko Komatsu, conductor

Isotaro Sugata (1907-1952): Symphonic Overture Op 6 (1939); Peaceful Dance of Two Dragons Op 8 (1940) (JO: Misterioso e gentile; HA: Con gravita e fastoso; KYU: Grazioso); Ballet Music 'The Rhythm of Life' Op 25 (1950) (Misterioso; Andante - scherzando; Lento); Dancing Girl in the Orient ('Sketches of the Desert' - Suite in Oriental Style Op 10, 1941)

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