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CD: Forest Whispers
Name of compoesr: Marty Regan
Label: Navona Records: http://www.naxosdirect.com/title/NV5831/
Marty Regan: www.martyregan.com
Marty Regan, Forest Whispers…
Marty Regan is a composer who fluidly – like water – moves between Japanese and Western classical music and blends the two in the most natural way. The music is a testimony to the fact that Regan is bi-musical and writes for instruments such as the Japanese bamboo flute shakuhachi, long-necked lute shamisen, zither koto and percussion ko-tsuzuumi as well as piano and violoncello. He creates a unique sound world of his own that simultaneously feels classical and modern to the listener. Regan carefully juxtaposes the instruments whether they are from the same or different traditions and find common grounds in their musical expression, on which he build the piece. He gracefully takes the listener on a journey moving between Western and Japanese traditions so that even the attentive listener looses track when these borders were crossed and transcended.
Track 1, Song-Poem of the Eastern Cloud is a shakuhachi and koto duet. Both Japanese instruments move gracefully in and out of phrases where the listener is tempted to listen for Eastern or Western intervals and sounds… however it is elusive and one is left with the feeling of oneness.
Track 2-4, Evanescent Yearning for shamisen and koto is a refreshing piece where Regan uses traditional techniques in such a way that they become new. The piece has serenity and pace to it that makes it feel like the sounds are sparkles of light in a river passing by gently.
Track 5, In remembrance, shakuhachi, Violoncello and piano. In this trio, the unique sonority of each instrument contrast with and supplement each other simultaneously. Regan uses in particularly the shakuhachi as if it was a chameleon. He makes the sound of the shakuhachi cross cultural borders and musical boundaries.
Track 6, Fastpass, shamisen and ko-tsuzumi. Here Regan shows his jazzy and humoristic side for which the shamisen is a perfect match. This piece is full of life and innovation. The buzz effect of the shamisen is well integrated into the piece and so is the voice of he ko-tsutsumi player.
Track 7, Forest Whispers… shakuhashi, violoncello is a powerful musical composition and interpreted skilfully by the musicians. The phases of both instruments are intensive with a rich timbre full of overtones.
Marty Regan is surely a composer, from whom we will hear more. I am already looking forward for Selected works for Japanese instruments, Vol II. The only regret I have is that, as the pieces are all beautifully performed – and I wish I knew who are playing as I do not recognise all the people on the list of acknowledgements.
I just bought this a few weeks ago at Ishikawa sensei's concert where he performed one of Marty's songs (although it is apparently not on this one but another that is coming out next month). It really is a great CD. He has a great blend between the different culture's musical styles. You can tell he studied under Minoru Miki.
He didn't really stress the musicians unfortunately(it is a Cd of his compositions though), however he did associate a lot with Aura-J when he was over here and I think Tanabe Retsuzan was the shakuhachi player. I have to check that though.
This is a good representation of Marty's music. I recorded Shinonome no uta as the first cut on my CD Silent Letters, Secret Pens in 2006 along with Aura-J's Fujikawa Izumi on koto.
This Saturday night I'll be perfoming the same piece along with Fujikawa-san and another piece of Marty's entitled Dragon Eyes with Izumi on 21 string koto and Yumiko Minoda on shamisen at Kumamoto Castle.
I'd like to add that Shinonome no uta presents a koten feel for the shakuhachi part which suggests something old in its voice, whereas the koto echoes with something that is decidedly newer in nature. Both parts wind in and out, often in a call and response manner to leave the listener in a very quiet state at the end.
Dragon Eyes, on the other hand, depicts the antics of a dragon emerging from slumber then taking off in a flight of fancy. It hits some frenetic points and is quite a demanding piece, especially if you play it on a 5 hole rokusun rather than a 7 hole. The piece calls for a solo introduction on a 2.4, then moves to a 1.6 after being joined by the shamisen and koto.
Both very enjoyable to play and listen to.
Last edited by Jeff Cairns (2010-11-18 06:33:03)
Oooops! I wrote in my review that I was missing the names of the performers. Well, it was just me being an computer idiot... I did read it had additional multimedia content... so.. if you put the CD into your computer much more info than you ever imagined possible including score comes up! Ok, I will shut up the complaints. It's a great CD and for those curious people out there... just stick the CD into your computer!
I had heard Shinonome no Uta a long time ago, and ever since "finding" the shakuhachi, this has been my all time favorite composition. The simplicity is utterly perfect, everything about this piece is incredible and inspiring to me.
I didn't know until more recently that Marty had composed this though.. I already thought very highly of him, but after learning that this was his piece, I have an even higher level of respect for him.
Marty and I worked together back in 2004.
Coincidentally, I spent the day with him just yesterday, talking about music, composition and comparing flutes..
What a great guy! He's very unassuming, with an air of innocence and honesty about him. This can really be heard in his music.. He lacks any kind of arrogance that one may expect from somebody with his accomplishments.
However, his compositions are anything but meek. Along with that touch of innocence and modesty, there is a bold, confident, almost reckless feel at times that you'll hear, a sound that you would expect from a Japanese master composer with a whole lifetime of experience behind him. It's really quite an amazing combination.. he seems way too young for some of his compositions, particularly "Shinonome no Uta". What a masterpiece!!
Another thing I'll say about his composition style, is that he has found a balance between what I believe are the two major aspects in composition. Theoretic accuracy, and passion. Lean too far either way, and you wind up with either a sterile sound that lacks life, or a wild uncontrolled, unorganized mess. I think that most composers lean a little towards the first, and honestly, even some of the very successful composers do this, and it's blatantly obvious to me when I hear it. The perfect balance is difficult to find, and only a few ever really get there. If you listen to Shinonome no Uta, you'll hear what I'm talking about. It's stunningly beautiful. Emotional. Passionate and bold, but gentle and sensitive.. and at the same time, it's meticulously composed, and theoretically as close to being perfect as it should be, which makes it perfect!
To me, the ability to compose like this, marks a true genius. It's not a common thing. Only a handful of composers that I have heard really "have it". Marty Regan is one of the few.
Sorry for rambling on for so long.. I just got really excited when I saw this thread.. hehe
Last edited by HarryHansen (2011-02-10 12:51:08)