(Solstice)

These beautiful pieces by Koji Asano were played by Bin Ueda (piano), Akiko Nakae (oboe) and Shunichiro Miyasaka (cello). When listening to the Japanese composer’s music, one never risks to get the same recipe over and over again; but his recent releases are among the finest pages that he has written throughout his prolific career. The suites are light-paced, gifted with a modern baroque touch that takes any reverential patina off the classical background of the musicians, three excellent players whose juvenile fervour overwhelms every potential weakness (and believe me, there aren’t many here). These scores are plucky, even if somehow rooted in a tradition; Asano has grown us used to sudden changes of direction over the course of his career, including venturing into hyper-advanced electronica and exploiting a single source to its limit thanks to sapient studio treatment, yet his outlook on chamber music is as stimulating and refreshing as a cold shower. Asano’s contrapuntal calligraphy highlights peculiar resonance and digestible contrast and, at a perfect length of about 36 minutes, we can enjoy an album which, far from sounding academically irreprehensible (read “sterile”), makes us curious enough to keep waiting for the next steps.

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