The Yamato Ensemble with British shakuhachi player Richard Stagg presents a second CD of traditional and contemporary Japanese chamber music, including an arrangement for koto and shakuhachi of folk songs from the island of Okinawa, a music rarely heard abroad. The first and the third pieces are typical pieces of the Jiuta repertoire (i.e., the Japanese chamber music style), although the third piece, "Yuki," is sung and performed only on shamisen. The second piece is "Tsuru No Sugomori," a piece of the Zen Buddhist honkyoku solo shakuhachi repertoire, and is known to be one of the oldest pieces of that repertoire. The three other pieces are contemporary, the last one being an arrangement of Okinawa folk songs. This last point should be emphasized because the traditional music of Okinawa differs greatly from that of mainland Japan. In fact, the music of Okinawa has a more Chinese character than a Japanese one, although it also has its own original flavor. Exquisite music!
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AllMusic Review by Bruno Deschênes