Song Cycle: Climbing High, for soprano and piano, 2018
Recorded by Junko Watanabe (Soprano) and Minato Sakamoto (Piano).
Song Cycle: Climbing High is composed of three songs on the same ancient Chinese poem, Climbing High by Du Fu (712-770), in three languages. While the songs in Japanese and English (No.1 and No.3) stem from the images invoked in the poem, the song in Mandarin (No.2) reflects two non-semantic considerations—the form of Tang-dynasty poems and the sound of the poem. Whenever listening to ancient Chinese poems, I imagine a classroom of first graders in China as they messily and spontaneously recite ancient poems by rote with little ability (or encouragement) to appreciate their deeper significance. The fusion of quotations from Stravinsky and Hanon at the beginning of No.2 represents such a scene.
No.1 (Japanese) at 0'00'', No.2 (Mandarin) at 3'22'', and No.3 (English) at 4'39''
Minato Sakamoto - Climbing High -
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(Excerpt) Nokia Scherzo: Hard-seat Class, from Chinese Railway for 11 instruments + mobile phone, 2018
Performed by Wistaria String Quartet and Amherst College chamber musicians
“Hard-seat” class is the lowest coach class in Chinese trains. The seats in this class are hard, as is travelling in this class. Passengers continuously talk on their cellphones, which defines the soundscape of this class. This class is generally chaotic. I have experienced children urinating outside the bathroom, migrant workers playing cards and gambling, and an elderly man offering me tasty food while speaking ill of my home country, Japan. Notwithstanding this chaos, the atmosphere of the class is never decadent; people have a destination, a clear purpose.
Minato Sakamoto - Movement V: Nokia Scherzo (Excerpt) -
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