Peter Dixon / Sachio Fujioka

Yoshimatsu: Cello Concerto "Centaurus Unit"; The Age of Birds; Chikap

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Impressionistic and highly colorful, the orchestral music of Takashi Yoshimatsu has achieved wide popularity, not only in his native Japan but internationally since the 1990s. An important part of his success is due to the advocacy of the BBC Philharmonic and Chandos Records, who have recorded much of his work and offered it to an audience eager to hear pleasant tonal music with few challenges. Yoshimatsu's pan-diatonic harmonies and unabashed lyricism have a simple appeal, and his orchestration is imaginative and luxuriant, particularly in The Age of Birds and Chikap. However, these pretty tone paintings wash over the listener in sonorous waves, and Yoshimatsu's orchestral effects are insufficient to sustain interest for more than a few minutes. There is little sense of development or musical argumentation, and the lack of high-profiled themes makes these pieces almost unmemorable, except for a vague recollection of their orchestral sheen. The Cello Concerto, "Centaurus Unit," has some vigorous dissonances and chaotic moments, but these dissolve quickly and harmlessly into more accessible harmonies and passages of neo-Romantic ardor. Despite cellist Peter Dixon's earnest performance, this concerto is peculiarly undramatic, meandering, and disappointing. The BBC Philharmonic, directed by Sachio Fujioka, is sumptuous in these performances, and Chandos has captured the orchestra with full resonance and depth.

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