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Soundtrack Review

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Within My Soul
The Music of Akemi Naito


Composer: Akemi Naito
Label: Ravello Records
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 25 October 2019

Within My Soul is New York-based composer Akemi Naito’s debut release on Ravello Records. His intent was to create a collection of musical works inspired by words. The poetry and prose that inspired the album’s three pieces were crafted by a trio of writers: 19th-century British poet and novelist Emily Brontë; 20th-century Japanese novelist Kobo Abe; and Japanese monk-poet Saigyo (1118 – 1190)...

Within My Soul consists of 3 works, spread over 9 tracks (1 hr, 01 min, 50 sec). It opens with the 7-part ' Emily Brontë: Through Life and Death, A Chainless Soul', a poetic mono-opera in one act, based on selected poems of Emily Brontë and scored for mezzo-soprano and piano.

The second work, 'The Woman in the Dunes for Solo Percussionist', was inspired by Japanese writer Kobo Abe’s novel, The Woman in the Dunes. Performed by percussionist Gregory Beyer, the music echoes Abe's text, using metallic instruments centred on chromatic gongs to express the woman’s emotions and drum instruments to express the turmoil of the male character in the novel.

And, finally, 'Five Waka poems by Saigyo' was composed as part of marimbist Makoto Nakura’s 'Forest Trilogy' project. It is based on the writings of the ancient monk-poet Saigyo, who expressed his free spirit in poems, inspired by nature, that even today continue to stimulate the imagination.

The three works are widely different in both their approach and delivery. As contemporary classical music goes this pretty much delivers what you'll be expecting. While it has its moments, it's a real slow burner. This is an album you'll need to invest a lot of time in to reap the rewards. On a first play through it's pretty unengaging, on any sort of emotional level. However, if you're prepared to stick with it, the subtle elements shine through after repeat listens.

Track listing:

Emily Brontë: Through Life and Death, A Chainless Soul (2017) (34:32)
Poetic mono-opera in one act
Jessica Bowers (mezzo-soprano), Marilyn Nonken (piano) and Toshihiro Sakuma (DVD - art installation)
01 - I. Prologue: I’M HAPPIEST WHEN MOST AWAY (1:57)
02 - II. Scene 1: Excerpt from PLEAD FOR ME (0:53)
03 - III. Scene 1: TO IMAGINATION (6:33)
04 - IV. Scene 2: Excerpt from MY COMFORTER (1:47)
05 - V. Scene 2: ANTICIPATION (12:28)
06 - VI. Scene 3: THE OLD STOIC (3:26)
07 - VII. Scene 3: NO COWARD SOUL IS MINE (7:28)

08 - The Woman in the Dunes for Solo Percussionist (2012) (18:22)
Inspired by Kobo Abe’s novel, The Woman in the Dunes
Gregory Beyer (percussion)

09 - Five Waka poems by Saigyo (2011) (8:59)
University of Illinois Chamber Singers
Andrew Megill (conductor/director) and William Moersch (marimba)


Darren Rea

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