Contemporary Piano Music from Japan shouldn't be mistaken for a broad survey of late 20th and early 21st century Japanese piano music. It's one tiny slice of the picture with music of just two composers, Joe Hisaishi and Yukie Nishimura. Hisaishi is well-known around the world to anime fans as a film score composer. Several of his solo piano pieces here are based on themes from his film scores (although there is nothing to indicate that in the packaging). His music is typically unabashedly lyrical and touching, gentle and inoffensive, at least in the selections here, which many would also classify as easy listening or new age music. Since the pieces do come from movies, there are moments of drama and melancholy, but they are brief, as most of the films are for young audiences. A sense of innocence is found throughout Hisaishi's works. The Twilight Shore is the only one that hints at more adult sensibilities with the use of jazz chords; not surprisingly it's from the score to a live action, PG-13 film, Kikijuro. The other composer here, Nishimura, also composes television music, but she is more widely known in Japan for her solo piano recordings. Her three works are very similar to Hisaishi's, almost indistinguishable in character. Eiko Yamashita obviously has a love for this music. She instinctively and easily brings out the gracefulness, warmth, and charm of it.
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AllMusic Review by Patsy Morita