A mistaken but widely-held view of Japanese music is that it consists of two completely separate and non-communicating areas: on one hand the disposable J-pop music scene based on Western models, on the other the traditional classical music world with its rigid, immutable customs and codes perpetuated through genres such as gagaku (court music) and shomyo (Buddhist chant), or through various forms of theatre (no, bunraku, kabuki) and upheld by instruments of ancient origin such as the shakuhachi (bambu flute), the biwa and the shamisen (lute) or the koto (a 13 string cither). It is this instrument in the capable hands of the young virtuoso CHIEKO MORI which is showcased on a new Felmay recording dedicated to music from the Far East.
The koto has a two metre-long sounding box and an arced harmonic table; the strings which are all of the same length length rest upon mobile bridges. The player kneels over the instrument and plucks the strings using three ivory plectrums fixed to the fingers of the right hand while the left hand modifies the tone and colour by pressing on the strings behind its bridge. What is most interesting about Katyou Fuugetsu is that CHIEKO MORI, though having fully mastered the techniques of classical playing handed down by the Ikuta and Yamada schools, adopts a fresh approach towards the instrument, suggesting new possibilities for koto music. On tracks such as Light Up and Fantasy, for instance, charming Japanese and Indian motifs are interwoven together with more improvised passages. In a similar Kimono Dance sees an encounter between Japanese waltz tradition and an improvised melody. These pieces along with with Sky Travel, an impressionistic excursion on the colours of the sky can be fruitfully compared with those taken from the traditional composers’ repertoire, enabling the listener to appreciate the interpretative subtlety CHIEKO MORI brings to each. Katyou Fuugetsu is a CD that shows how also in Japan are there artists able to shine the light of the past on the here-and-now without stifling their own talent or desire to experiment.
CHIEKO MORI already has number of important collaborations and projects under her belt, having worked with renowned artists the likes of Michael Galasso, Bob Wilson and Phil Minton. 2005 saw the release of, Jumping Rabbit her first solo CD for the Tzadik label whose director John Zorn praised her qualities as an artist.
MORI Chieko from Felmay Shop