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Like a bird; music for Japanese traditional instruments

Satsuki Odamura (koto)
Ian Cleworth (percussion)
Riley Lee (shakuhachi)
Cleis Pearce (violin)
Kazue Sawai (koto)


Kasue Sawai Flying Like a Bird; Voices of Water; A Sound of Sands
Cleworth/Odamura/Sawai Kotobayashi
... Bridges in Darkness
... Shadows ... Echoes
... Fugitive Voices
... Arcane Visions

Kuribayashi Duet for Bass Koto
Matsumura Poeme No 1


Tall Poppies TP044

I became a devotee of Japanese traditional music first through the broadcasts and London concerts of the British based shakuhachi virtuoso Yoshikazu Iwamoto (Almeida Festival, City University etc), who also developed his instrument in association with electronics. It is as unique, in its different way, as the Indian bamboo flute.

Later I had opportunities to relish the koto, most recently through the playing of Etsuko Takezawa (koto, bass koto, shamisen) who flew in from Tokyo to join the London based group Okeanos Plus. These are all wonderful instruments, and there are pockets of activity to be found in several Western countries.


Australia is nearer to Japan than UK, and the Tall Poppies label features several examples of japanese traditional and contemporary music. This is Satsuki Odamura's first CD, devoted entirely to 20th-century music, and it features the instrument in various and varied settings. Since arriving in Australia less than a decade ago she founded an Australian branch of the Sawai International Kot School and introduced the koto into contemporary performance there, her playing successfully integrating traditional and modern techniques. For this CD she has collaborated with some of the musicians in Australia most fascinated by the meeting of East and West in music.


It is a lovely CD and whets the appetite for more from that source. It is varied, including two bass kotos duetting, and pieces with violin, percussion and Riley Lee's shakuhachi, which is less characteristically breathy than Iwamoto's, as I remember his from a series of BBC broadcasts in the '80s.


Well worth seeking out.



Peter Grahame Woolf