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Ronald E. Grames
Fanfare, September 2012

For the symphony, the image was of a vast swarm of locusts sweeping across the earth. The work begins with a massive statement of that idea, with a great alarm of bells and an immense buzzing from the strings as the power of the scourge is made aurally manifest. Over the 12-minute span of the Andante movement, the transformations, with brass-led climaxes, and accompanied and connected by a Stravinsky-inspired percussive ostinato, become overwhelming in their cumulative effect before dissolving into emotional exhaustion. The Adagio movement uses the same raw material to create an aural landscape of stark devastation, while the Allegro finale suggests initial hope, followed by variations both menacing and anticipatory, before leaving on a powerful climax that is emotionally ambivalent. It is a gripping piece throughout…

This Naxos Japanese Classics release makes it possible to experience this little-known master’s music at little cost or bother…Takuo Yuasa…proves an inspired interpreter of his compatriot’s music. The RTE National Symphony Orchestra performs with skill and conviction, and pianist Ikuyo Kamiya plays the crucial but understated piano part in the Second Symphony with sensitivity. © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review, November 2011

Here, sorrow and hope coexist and alternate, each taking the place of the other for a time, only to return to the background as the other emotion comes equally strongly to the front. The blending of Buddhist and Christian feelings and emphases in Matsumura’s work allows a mixing of emotions as well, with hopefulness and something akin to despair—but not quite despairing—coexisting and periodically giving way to each other. Read complete review

MusicWeb International, October 2011

This latest disc, of orchestral works by Teizo Matsumura, is as good as any that have gone before.

Commissioned by the Japan Philharmonic and premiered in 1965, the Symphony no.1 is a work of enormous, almost overwhelming power, with a finale that is little short of terrifying…

Symphony no.2[’s]…finale is three minutes of inspired brilliance; the work as a whole is noisy, but tonal and overall, like the rest of Matsumura’s music on this disc, pretty approachable to ears attuned to the European symphonic heritage that stems from Wagner and Strauss.

To the Night of Gethsemane is a third imposing, profound work, a very European tone poem inspired by Giotto’s fresco The Kiss of Judas, with the added poignancy of being Matsumura’s last orchestral work, a pathos reflected in the surprising violin solo in the coda.

The reliably excellent RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra give a necessarily virtuosic, masculine performance, as they have done many times before for Naxos. They are masterfully conducted by Takuo Yuasa, who has quite a record already with different orchestras performing Japanese music on Naxos…

David Denton
David's Review Corner, August 2011

Teizo Matsumura was born in Japan in 1929 and had the deep misfortune of losing both parents by the age of twenty, himself falling a victim of tuberculosis the following year. During his five years convalescing a passion for Western music, that dated back to his elementary school days, crystalized into a firm intention to spend his life as a composer. He was to win the first prize in the Japan Music Competition, and from therein set out to mix Western influences with a Japanese culture. His First Symphony dates from 1965 and has the high impact and colourful orchestration that we have come to expect from Japan in an era when the West began to realise the outstanding quality of their musicians on the international stage. Atonality plays a major ingredient, yet is at his most persuasive when the music slips back into a modern tonality, its second movement full of ghostly apparitions. The Second Symphony, here performed in its final 2006 revision, is, in actuality, a hybrid piano concerto in three movements with a highly demanding solo part. We are not only deep into atonality, but in the finale we are in the complexity of layered atonality. To the Night of Gethsemane was Matsumura’s final orchestral work, and is a highly descriptive and deeply moving musical depiction of the biblical story of Jesus’s betrayal by Judas. The piano soloist, Ikuyo Kamiya, came to international prominence following her victory in the 1972 Queen Elizabeth competition and has since been among Japan’s most outstanding musicians. Ireland’s RTE National Symphony play for Takuo Yuasa with that passion and commitment that goes way beyond the call of duty, the engineers providing the enormous dynamic range needed.

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