This is a handsome-looking compact disc release, with strikingly muted graphics in cool purple tones, featuring Latvian violinist Gidon Kremer and Japanese harpist Naoko Yoshina. Here the pretty graphics go a little too far: the buyer finds no listing of compositions on the outside of the package and has no way of knowing what is played aside from a bare mention of the names of the 11 composers featured. That's where the All Classical Guide comes in. The works were all written in the twentieth century. They are: Michio Miyagi's Haru no umi (Ocean in Spring, a calming, melodic piece); Kaija Saariaho's Nocturne for violin solo (a somewhat avant-garde coloristic piece); Toru Takemitsu's Stanza II for harp and tape (also pretty far out and very Japanese-sounding); Yuji Takahashi's Insomnia for violin, voices, and kugo (strange, but oddly soothing); a movement from Satie's Le fils des étoiles as arranged by Takahashi (austere); Jean Françaix's Five Little Duets (100 percent charming); the Étude for violin from Richard Strauss's Daphne (also charming); Six Melodies by John Cage (simple and pleasant); Arvo Pärt's Spiegel im Spiegel (even simpler and not startling); Nino Rota's love theme from The Godfather (you know this one); and the final movement from Schnittke's Suite in the Old Style (gently Classical except for one deliberately horrendous dissonance). So there you have the emotional progression of this carefully planned album. Much of it could cure insomnia; three or four pieces could cause it. The mood is nocturnal throughout. The recording was made in 1996 in Kioi Hall, Tokyo, with Wilhelm Hellweg as producer and engineer. It completely succeeds in what was intended; the microphones are close enough to Kremer that bowing sounds are very evident, but apparently only when the producer wants them to be.
AllMusic Review by Joseph Stevenson
|Le fils des étoiles, Chaldean pastoral, 3 preludes for piano|
|Cinque Piccoli Duetti, for flute & harp|
|Six Melodies, for violin & keyboard|
|Suite (Sonata) in the Old Style, for violin & piano (or harpsichord)|