English Blog

Living with Robert Schumann’s Music 1/20/17

January 20, 2017

I have been tinkering with Robert Schumann’s Davidsbundlertanze Op. 6. This is an amazing music to live with. The life and music of Robert and Clara Schumann is my life long theme. Their romance and relationship created great music, and they substantially influenced musicians and artists in 19 century. Without them I believe the music scene was completely different in that era. Robert initially wrote this piece as the wedding gift to Clara, and he revised it later. But Clara had trouble understanding this work first and she took it into her repertoire after Robert died.

There are 18 movements in 2 books in Davidsbundlertanze. Each movement reflects Robert’s different mood and thought with 2 characters, Florestan and Eusebius. For instance the 1st movement ends with his voice (in my imagination) “Everything will be fine if I am with Clara”. This phrase appears in the middle of the movement as well. 2nd movement starts with Robert’s melancholy, but he sees stars in the night sky and he remembers Clara (in  my image again!). I have my imagination in each movement and it is so fun to play through. In 4th movement in Book 2 Robert feels triumph over Clara’s father (my image!) and the passage is a triumph march (similar to Chopin’s march in Fantasy. Of course Chopin’s march is political triumph). In 9th movement in Book 1 Clara and Robert dance with laugh. They may be slightly drunk! I can go on forever to talk about this piece! There are many great recordings of Davidsbundlertanze. If you can’t come to my performances please listen the great pianists playing Schumann! I am sure you will enjoy it.

Being Anonymous 1/20/17

January 20, 2017

It has been already for 20 days into the new year! Time flies. Social media has been around our world more than 10 years. For instance FaceBook started February 4, 2004. People have been creating “self image” apart from the reality for long time. We can be anyone we like online. In Japan it is very popular to take photos with the machine (Purikura) which can make your eyes bigger, your body thinner, whatever you like. You just push the bottom to select the perfect image. And you post this photo online. Who am I??

I recently have gone to several social meetings to experience “Current Trend”. It is fun. I have noticed people don’t introduce themselves fully, and try to stay anonymous in person. For instance they call each other “Handle Names”. At one meeting (Japanese language one) I was told I should join “Line” even though the purpose of that meeting is to get away from internet and talk in person! One person from the other group gave me the internet image to introduce himself. It did not tell me anything to get know this person. Of course being musician myself it is our job to be in public and we can’t hide. People know us. More to the point we have to be known! So I may have different attitude toward this trend. But it is very interesting and alarming that people are not proud to tell their real lives. If you start with “created image” when do you reveal “reality”? Or people don’t care and they separate their real lives from created ones. So they live in 2 or morelives?? You can be cool and fancy on internet, but Who Am I??

a Movie “Neruda” 1/8/17

January 9, 2017

NERUDA is an imaginative tale about the fugitive poet Pablo Neruda and the police officer who is set on capturing him. The cold war reached Chile and Neruda has a warrant to be arrested because of his political stance. It is based on the true and gruesome story, but the movie is a fantasy, love and power. It is so beautiful to hear his poems recited.

A Movie “Lion” 1/5/17

January 5, 2017

I saw this movie on 1st of January 2017! It was a perfect choice! It s a uplifting story based on the true experience. Talented cast and directing makes this “feeling good” movie not too much tear jerking. Five-year-old Saroo (Dev Patel) unexpectedly gets lost on a train which takes him thousands of Kilometers across India, away from home and family. Saroo has no choice to learn to survive alone in Kolkata, before being adopted by an Australian couple (Nicole Kidman and David Wenham). Twenty-five years later, Saroo has only a handful of memories, but he is determined to find his origin. He became obsessed with the dream to meet his family again. Finally he trucks down his village with Google search….. Super Happy ending! Saroo even mispronounced his own name. He was so little when he got lost. His real name is Sheru, means Lion.

Movie “The Eagle Huntress” 11/27/16

November 28, 2016

It is really a cool movie. Aisholpan, a 13 year-old girl, trains to become the first female eagle huntress in 12 generations of her Kazah family. She is strong, she loves eagles, she loves nature, she loves her family, she loves her friends at school, SO she is a good girl! This attempt is against to the pinnacle of a tradition that has been handed down father to son for centuries, but never to daughter. While there are many old/traditional Kazak eagle hunters who totally reject the idea of any female taking a part of this tradition Aisholpan’s father, Nurgaiv, believes in his daughter for her ability and talent. He thinks a girl can do anything a boy can do, as long as she is determined. They work hard together, and… I should not say everything. You must watch this movie. Go Aisholpan!

Haruki Murakami “Norwegian Wood” 11/15/16

November 15, 2016

I have read this book at least 5 times by now. Each time I cry at the same places, one is the cucumber scene when Watanabe at Midori’s father’s death bed. It is very quiet, tender, gentle, and beautiful scene. Murakami is known to be a sort of Japanese-American style writer, but he is really Japanese. (I have not read his novels in English yet.) This book was written 30 years ago, and it is still very fresh. This book makes me homesick. I know it is better this way, to feel homesick rather than being in Japan. My teenager era, when I struggled so much with my identity (music was always with me), I strolled around Shinjuku so much. I had a favorite Rock bar to hang around where I was exposed to Rock music and Progressive Rock music besides Beethoven and Chopin. This book is my time machine. I am sure I will read it again and again.

A Movie “The Handmaiden” 11/8/16

November 9, 2016

“The Handmaiden uses a Victorian crime novel, Sara Waters’ “Fingersmith”,  as the loose inspiration to create Japanese-occupied Korea in the 1930s. The result is a historical drama, an erotically charged thriller, and, most importantly, true romance. Park Chan-wook, a director, is very sophisticated, creative and flexible. I don’t want to go into the details of the story. You have to watch this movie. Park is not afraid of Asian style taboos. He knows the beauty of Korean women. Yet he is very humorous.

It is written in Korean and Japanese. I imagine I was the only one who understood Japanese language in that movie theatre that day. Japanese in this movie is not smooth because Korean actors and actresses are speaking it. But their Japanese sounds very erotic. They speak horrible porn language in Japanese, but they don’t understand as native. So they speak as if they don’t feel anything. It turned to be very erotic. I won’t be able to speak the language choice in this movie!

The movie is beautifully made. We enjoy “The Handmaiden” with eyes, ears and heart.

Schubert’s Winter Journey: Anatomy of an Obsession Ian Bostridge Knopt 11/7/16

November 7, 2016

First of all it is a beautiful book. And it is very heavy.. They use very nice paper. If you like Schubert’s Winterreise this is the book to read. I have played many of songs in this collection and recently heard Alfred Brendel/Matthias Goerne’s performance of Winterreise at Disney Concert Hall. I believe it was one of the last performances before Brendel retired. Of course I grew up listening Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau/Gerald Moore recording. Many of us have very strong attachment to Winterreise and the author goes very deeply musically, historically, and artistically. I have been practicing Schubert’s Impromptu Opus posth. 142 No. 3 and it is very nice to feel closer to Winterreise which was composed in Schubert’s final month.

Robert Schumann: Davidsbundlertanze, Op. 6 10/7/16

October 7, 2016

I have been in love with Robert Schumann’s Davidsbundlertanze. After coming back from the summer concerts I decided to learn this piece. I have played several Schumann pieces, but I never had a chance to play Davidsbundlertanze. This was basically written for the wedding gift to Clara. He took the opening melody from Clara’s Mazurka Op. 6 and he switched around Carnival (Op. 9) and Fantasiestuck (Op. 12) to match Op. number for Davidsbundlertanze to her Mazurka. Carnival and other pieces were written before Davidsbundlertanze.

There are 18 small movements (piano cycle) and each shows different mood and attitude according to Florestan and Eusebius. There is a lot of affection, of course. You hear Robert calling Clara’s name, Clara and Robert are joking each other, they are having fun, sometimes they are anxious and nervous, Robert singing serenade for her, he hears her voice in distance, Robert is happy to see her beautiful smile, They argue… And the piece ends with many Cs. C is the first letter from Clara. Robert later said he was the happiest when he was writing this piece.

I performed Davidsbundlertanze yesterday for the first time in public. I had a hard time controlling myself not being involved too much. I am just in love playing it.

Noon to Midnight “Green Umbrella” Concert 10/7/16

October 7, 2016

Fantastic combination of compositions were presented at Green Umbrella on Saturday October 1. I truly enjoyed listening the concert, but also being there was something very special. The Disney Concert Hall had an energy. Noon to Midnight project had so many aspects, and I went for the Green Umbrella part which is from 1000 crickets singing in BP Hall, 13 years-old virtuoso violist, Marley Erickson,  playing (she walked through the hall while she was performing) a demanding piece, 17 years old clarinetist and composer, Andrew Moses, presented his amazing world to us, It was so wonderful to hear Timo Andres again and to chat with him afterwards…. The music is alive. The music is a life itself.