Peter Grahame Woolf
The Japanese born composer Maki Ishii (b.1936) lives in Berlin and fuses European and traditional Japanese scales and rhythms in his music. I have enjoyed his Lost Sounds II for accordion and tape & Tango Prism, which distorts a familiar tango. Review
Here he combines traditional Gagaku court music, western percussion with Japanese drums, and woodwind instruments to extend the palate. It is an ambitious full-length ballet score, based on an ancient fairy-tale about a Moon Princess who lures suitors to their deaths, but with updated references—cars on stage to suggest materialism.
Princess Kaguyahime has long meditative scenes with oriental flutes & glockenspiel as the enchanting stranger who bewitches all men including the Emperor himself. There are fight and folk dance scenes in which percussion predominates. It begins with the composer conducting a mere wisp of practically inaudible sound, which grows very gradually to thunderous climaxes, the whole developing in two acts over a 70 min time span, running without a break.
Jiri Kylian’s choreography is as inventive as readers who have followed my reviews of his work with Nederlands Dans Theater [about DVDs Histoire du Soldat, L’enfant et les sortileges & Peter and the Wolf] will expect.
The booklet is a great improvement upon some others from Arthaus, with comprehensive information about the ballet and its story, an explanation of Kylian’s avoidance of traditional narrative structure, CVs of the composer, Nederlands Dans Theater and The Circle Ensemble. The 1994 production is supported by superb camera work and lighting of dancers and musicians, the sound is vivid and immediate—a feast for eyes and ears to See and Hear.