2009 Lawrence Tuczynski

Title Yumi Aikawa | Nagasaki Bells ~ New Morning | Yuji Koseki Song Collection
CD Label Nippon Columbia Co., LTD/DENON
CD Number COCO-80098
Music by: Yuji Koseki
Music Performed by: Yumi Aikawa
Number of tracks 19
Running time 72:29
Number of discs 1
Year of release/manufacture May 01, 1996

REVIEW August 8, 2009
(Review and all info on this disc courtesy of Robert Storch)

Yumi Aikawa is a soprano vocalist who has released many CDs in Japan, some of which are based on the works of Akira Ifukube and are reviewed elsewhere on this site. This release focuses solely on vocal compositions that were written by Yuji Koseki (who is best known as the composer of MOTHRA). However, Mr. Koseki appears to be credited only as an "arranger" on Tracks 11 & 12, and while he originally composed the music to most of these songs, the lyrics were all written by other people. As a side note, all of the songs on this CD were originally written between 1929 and 1961, although most are from the mid-40's through the mid-50's.

The title of this CD partially refers to one of Yuji Koseki's most famous songs, "The Bells of Nagasaki" (originally written in 1949), which was made into a film in 1950. This theme song was reportedly very popular in Japan at that time. I believe the film (and song) was based on the writings of a Japanese WW2 era medical doctor who died in 1951 from the effects of the Nagasaki bombing. Yuji Koseki was one of Japan's most famous composers and was known for writing many war songs as well. According to online sources, during the war, many musicians were forced to write war songs and Mr. Koseki was reportedly later criticized as being a war collaborator, to which he was remorseful.

As for the music on this disc, the nineteen tracks are pleasant to listen to, but unless you like vocal music in an operatic style, you might not enjoy this CD. I personally picked this up because I wanted to hear Ms. Aikawa's version of "Mothra's Song" (Track 15), which was originally sung by The Peanuts in 1961. It's a pretty faithful interpretation and certainly the highlight of this CD for me. It should be noted that all of the songs on this disc are sung to the accompaniment of a lone piano playing in the background, which obviously allows Ms. Aikawa's voice to stand out prominently.

This CD is currently out of print and sometimes fetches a decent price when it's sold in Japan on the resale market. At first I wasn't sure if I liked this release after I initially played it, but Yumi Aikawa's voice and a lot of the songs started to grow on me with repeated listens. The booklet contains only one photo of Ms. Aikawa, but has many photos of Yuji Koseki and contains a lot of text in Japanese as well (probably an overview of his career and information on each song). If you collect Japanese vocal music this CD is worth seeking out.

Yumi Aikawa | Nagasaki Bells ~ New Morning | Yuji Koseki Song Collection

  1. Crescent daughter
  2. Pointed hat
  3. The Night of the Festival bears
  4. Slope in rainy Netherlands
  5. Swan Song
  6. ? KI Tokyo Dream
  7. Francesca Bell
  8. Your name
  9. Songs of the black lily
  10. If the mother thought E
  11. Nursery rhymes of Shimabara
  12. Itsuki's nursery rhymes
  13. Boatmen and loved
  14. Night tune Fukushima
  15. Mothra's Song
  16. Nursery rhymes of the Great Wall
  17. Yurino tower princess
  18. The Bells of Nagasaki
  19. New SHIKI morning