© 2004 Lawrence Tuczynski

CD Label Fontec Records
CD Number FOCD-3222
Music composed by: Akira Ifukube
Music performed by: Shinsei Nihon Symphony Orchestra
Kazuo Yamada conducting
Number of tracks 6
Running time 51:26
Number of discs 1
Year of release/manufacture 08/25/1988


February 22, 2004 - Review by Sam Scali

This CD collects three live recordings of Akira Ifukube's classical compositions, performed between 1979 and 1986 by the Shinsei Nihon Orchestra and conducted by Kazuo Yamada.

The first piece, JAPANESE RHAPSODY (1935), is Ifukube's first orchestral work, written more than a decade before he began scoring films. The first movement begins with a bittersweet Eastern melody played on solo violin, and accompanied by sparse percussion and piano. This is followed by an ominously sad orchestral passage, which segues into the string section's reprise of the original violin melody. The second movement is a decided departure, with a more vibrant, upbeat rhythm and thunderous orchestral support. It also introduces one of Ifukube's most familiar exotic themes, which he later reworked for the Odo Island ritual scene in the first Godzilla film. JAPANESE RHAPSODY also appears on other CDs on this site, including CZ30-9017, TYCY-5424~25 and NAXOS 8.555071

The next piece, TRIPTYQUE ABORIGINE (1937), is another composition with a strong Eastern flavor. The first movement suggests a spirited folk dance, featuring vibrant interplay between violin and piano, and backed by spare orchestration and simple percussion. The second movement is more somber and introspective, with slow, muted horn passages weaving a sad melody, joined by woodwinds, piano, violin and harp. The dynamic rhythm returns in the final section, with animated violin, sprightly flute and playful piano supported by minimal orchestral backing and percussive textures. Alternate recordings of this fine composition can be heard on VDC-5503, TYCY-5369~70 and KICC-175.

The final piece, LAUDA CONCERTATA (1979), is one of the maestro's more recent works, and it is given a spectacular performance on this CD. It's a sprawling, majestic composition featuring haunting orchestral themes and several intricate marimba interludes. These segments are mostly performed solo, though there are many overlapping moments of impressive interplay between marimba and orchestra. During the last few minutes the two forces combine in a relentless, awe-inspiring display of textural power. Other versions of this magnificent work can be found on TYCY-5424~25, WS-01 and KOCD-2906.

I would highly recommend this rare CD to Ifukube fans, especially those who are partial to the maestro's classical work (as well as his more exotic film scores such as THE BIRTH OF JAPAN). This disc was later reissued with a different cover as FOCD-2512, but unfortunately that edition is also out-of-print.



  1. I. Nocturne
  2. II. Fete

  4. I. Payses "Tempo di JIMKUU"
  5. II. TIMBRE nom regional
  6. III. PAKKAI "chant d'AINO"
  7. LAUDA CONCERTATA per Orchestra e Marimba
    Keiko Abe on marimba