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Japanese Music by Michio Miyagi, Volume One|
Review Date: Nov 2008
by Arthur Shuey
“The Beethoven of the koto” ... Hmmm. That's the way Michio Miyagi is described as having been described in the first half of the 20th century. Though the music comes from half a planet away, every piece sounds vaguely familiar, implying that it's been used in films, played before formal concerts and during intermissions, maybe at museum or gallery openings and in other settings the listener has passed through at one time or another.
The vocals, which appear on half the CD cuts, are most difficult for the Western ear. We simply reject the drawn out, pained, guttural, thinning notes as pointless, detrimental and all too evocative of the not late enough Yoko Ono.
Miyagi was justly famous as the musical equivalent of those 19th century Japanese painters who so influenced Impressionist art. His music tells us what was destroyed in Japan by the Second World War and the military/industrial culture that preceded and followed it. This is the music of cherry blossoms and poetry, and that's a good thing.
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