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Masahiko Hosokawa — Like Shimmering of Hot Air
(Belle Antique 96306, 1997, CD)

by Mike Ezzo, Published 1997-05-01

Like Shimmering of Hot Air Cover art

Belle Antique have really come full circle now, with this release — a solo keyboard work from Hosokawa, a native Japanese composer. The album consists roughly of six solo piano pieces, alternating with very short interludes on sampler keyboards to flesh it out. Only on "Landscape with Percussion 4" does he finally decide to blend the piano and synth textures into one whole. Depending on where you drop the needle, (or in this case the laser beam) you will come up with a decidedly skewed impression of what Hosokawa is up to. Add to that the fact that many of the works segue into each other, and you have a whole smorgasbord of sonic images on your plate. Influences are not easy to pin down, unless you happen to be an expert on modern-day keyboard composition (which I am not). I definitely hear strains of Debussy in his tendency for modality, aqueous textures, and whole tone melodies in "Falling in Broad Daylight." Visions of Boulez pop up in a few places, especially in the atonal pointillist outbursts that open the album with "Prologue: Awakening." "In Istanbul, And..." really works better for my taste, a more coherent and unified snippet emulating the patter of rainfall — simple, tranquil, and deliberate. Alan Hovhaness' piano writing comes to mind here. The title piece works much the same way, and is the finest effort by far I think in that Hosokawa shows an astute skill in tying everything together, free of any tangents or loose ends.

Others however didn't quite do the trick for me in the way that they capriciously skip around the block, capturing a melange of twentieth-century compositional techniques in their path; impressionist here, dodecaphonic there, with a bit of minimalism added for contrast. Certainly a textbook of modern keyboard writing is evident here. To enjoy this music though, you would have to be prepared for a study in variety.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 12, 1997 releases

Related artist(s): Masahiko Hosokawa

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