Magazine article Opera Canada

Shoka

Magazine article Opera Canada

Shoka

Article excerpt

SHOKA

DIANA DAMRAU

Analekta: AN 2 9130

The Montreal Symphony Orchestra and Music Director Kent Nagano are featured here, with the Choeur des enfants de Montreal, in a selection of 22 charming "Shoka" or Japanese childrens school hymns. With the exception of two instrumental interludes, all are set to Japanese poetry but musically very much in Western style, with expected pentatonic tunes here and there. The arrangements are by the French composer Jean-Pascal Beintus. Soprano Diana Damrau is heard in 12 of the selections, and she sings divinely, with very good Japanese diction, although never, ever showing off the coloratura range she is famous for. The mood here is one of a gentle lulling.

Although Nagano is of Japanese heritage, his family immigrated to America in the late 19th century and the Japanese tradition of children's songs was not well known to him until he heard his toddler daughter and Japanese wife listening to recorded versions. The conductor began to listen to them regularly himself, rekindling interest in his Japanese roots and leading to the commissioning of the arrangements heard here. …

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