2007 Lawrence Tuczynski

Title: Dance of the Seven Veils: A Ballet based on 'Salome'
CD Label: Camerata
CD Number: CMCD-28096
Music composed by: Akira Ifukube
Music performed by: Keiko Nosaka
Number of tracks: 10
Running time: 47:31
Number of discs: 1
Year of release/manufacture: November 20, 2005

REVIEW

June 15, 2007

This is a pretty short disc time wise and most of the tracks themselves are very short. Tracks 1-5, 7 & 8 are all well under two minutes each. Track 9 is just over 14 minutes long while track 10 is close to 18 minutes. All music is in a classical style and slow to upper mid tempo.

Composed as a ballet in 1948, this was arranged as a concert suite in 1987. Arrangement for the 25 string koto performed by Keiko Yasaka.

June 30, 2007 Courtesy of Sam Scali

Koto virtuoso Keiko Nosaka returns with another exquisite presentation of Akira Ifukube's music, recorded in July 2005 - several months before the composer's death and most likely with his supervision. Ms. Nosaka first began studying and collaborating with Ifukube in 1993, and has recorded a number of performances of his work, including EGOLOGUE SYMPHONIQUE (1993), ANTHOLOGY OF MUSIC FOR 25-STRING KOTO (1995), PIPA XING (1999) and KEIKO NOSAKA IN RECITAL (2001).

The album's highlight is a wonderful interpretation of the maestro's ballet "Salome", or "Dance of the Seven Veils" (Tracks 1-9), better known in its extended orchestral arrangement. Ifukube originally composed the biblically inspired work in 1948, in collaboration with some of Tokyo's most renowned dancers. In 1987 he significantly expanded and revised the piece for its concert hall premiere, a magnificent performance that was subsequently released on the Futureland label (LD32-5054). Another live reading was included on GODZILLA SYMPHONY FANTASY (also 1987), followed by an excellent 1995 studio version on THE ARTISTRY OF AKIRA IFUKUBE 3. Ms. Nosaka's rendition is significantly shorter than all of these (29-plus minutes versus 45), which suggests that she may have used Ifukube's original ballet score rather than the reworked concert version.

Nosaka's masterful koto technique really shines in this piece. The seven "Dance" sequences are beautifully realized, seamlessly combining slow, sensuous passages with stately, ceremonial motifs and intricate, frenetically played themes. The finale (Track 9), which chronicles Salome's madness and ultimate demise, is a long, complex series of somber interludes punctuated by restless, passionate outbursts - ultimately leading to a turbulent, dramatic climax. A few of the themes will be instantly recognizable to fans of Ifukube's film work.

"Toka" (Track 10) is another lush, engaging composition, previously recorded by Nosaka in 1995 for ANTHOLOGY OF MUSIC FOR 25-STRING KOTO. The new version is performed more delicately and in a slightly higher key, which imbues the piece with a sweeter and more wistful quality.

This CD is a welcome addition to the Ifukube canon, and will certainly appeal to fans of classical koto music. Hopefully Ms. Nosaka will continue to interpret the maestro's repertoire well into the future.

Dance of the Seven Veils, A Ballet based on 'Salome'
Track transltions courtesy of Jolyon Yates

  1. Castle Courtyard Beneath The Moon
  2. Dance 1
  3. Dance 2
  4. Dance 3
  5. Dance 4
  6. Dance 5
  7. Dance 6
  8. Dance 7
  9. Arrangement for the 25 string koto

  10. Bring the Head of John [the Baptist], Mad Salome
    Based on the ballet 'Salome'
  11. Toka [Japanese court music c7th Century]
    Dance song in the style of the ancient Japanese way