(Solstice)

Masterfully performed by violinist Kumi Nakajima, a prodigy girl who started playing aged 4, and violist Masashi Sasaki, lead viola of the Sendai Philarmonic Orchestra, these suites rank not only among the finest compositions that Koji Asano has ever written, but also find their place in a virtual gallery of the most engaging music for strings that I’ve heard lately. The first suite “Hollersbach” was inspired by an invitation to Austria received by Asano in 2004; in that occasion, he listened to the duo of Willem De Swardt and Ursula Kortschak who influenced his desire to write this material, an inspiration which was furtherly confirmed after being marveled by Nakajima and Sasaki’s gorgeous sound. All the suites are quite linear and “cantabile”, exploring various motifs ranging from Bartokian melodies to serene descriptions of hypothetical scenes from a not too distant past; a competent use of controlled dissonance and quasi-Reichian processes of harmonic construction, well evident in “Hollersbach”, adds some spice to this effective concoction of influences, digested by Asano in order to create a personal outlook on a quite difficult topic. Given also the beautiful recording, this is highly recommended to everybody.

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