Academic journal article Notes

Soliloquies: New Japanese and Chinese Music for Harpsichord and Organ

Academic journal article Notes

Soliloquies: New Japanese and Chinese Music for Harpsichord and Organ

Article excerpt

Soliloquies: New Japanese and Chinese Music for Harpsichord and Organ. Calvert Johnson. Albany TROY1049, 2008.

There is clearly nothing objectively wrong with the idea of writing contemporary music for the harpsichord. Nevertheless, when it has been attempted in the past the results have not often been very satisfactory. While allowance must be made for listener prejudice--those who normally associate the harpsichord's unique timbre with music of the baroque and Renaissance periods may well balk reflexively when faced with spikier harmonies and more abstract melodies as presented by the same instrument--it is also true that some modern composers for the harpsichord seem perversely eager to exploit the instrument's least attractive qualities while underplaying its most promising capabilities. This interesting program of works for harpsichord and organ by living Asian composers presents a fascinating blend of approaches, some of which are revelatory and some of which are much less so. Makiko Asaoka's Four Pieces for Harpsichord is an example of a composition that seems to exult in making the instrument as aurally annoying as possible, with its blocky rhythms and nasty-sounding tritone melodies. …

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