Dmitry Yablonsky

Ifukube: Sinfonia Tapkaara; Ritmica Ostinata; Symphonic Fantasia No. 1

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The impetus for Akira Ifukube's intensely rhythmic and assertive music -- indeed, the source of inspiration for his career as a composer -- was his first hearing of Stravinsky's Le sacre du printemps. Yet listeners may feel somewhat misled by this frequently cited biographical fact, and find instead that Ifukube's orchestral music sounds more like Shostakovich and Khachaturian, or in later pieces, like Philip Glass' film scores avant la lettre. It is unfair to make pat judgments of a composer whose music is only now being performed with any regularity in the West, and whose work ranges from symphonies and concertos, such as the primitivistic Sinfonia Tapkaara (1954, revised 1979), and the ruggedly minimalist pattern piece Ritmica Ostinata for piano and orchestra (1961, revised 1972), to effective soundtracks for Godzilla and other Japanese monster movies, as represented in the potpourri of horror film themes, the Symphonic Fantasia No. 1 (1983). The Russian Philharmonic Orchestra, with pianist Ekaterina Saranceva and under the direction of Dmitry Yablonsky, renders these orchestral pieces with considerable punch, vigorous articulation, and somber coloration, but reserves a special kick for the last track, which is utterly over-the-top and just too much fun to miss. Naxos' sound quality is terrific.

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