6 Dec 2014

I think this year has been a lot different.
I've been focusing on lyrics more than ever before. That might be caused by the fact my Japanese got better and I'm able to understand at least the general meaning of a song without using a dictionary.

But even if that's the case I never thought of lyrics too much. For me the important thing was sound in overall, whether it was English (which I could understand before) or Japanese song.
It might have slightly changed.

These are my top 10 albums and top 10 songs of this year (notice I do not mean works released 2014, but things I have discovered this year).



植松伸夫 – A New World: intimate music from FINAL FANTASY

大貫妙子 & 坂本龍一 – UTAU

Hiromi – Alive

IMERUAT – Propelled Life

細野晴臣 – Hosono House

Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures

神聖かまってちゃん – 8月32日へ

坂本慎太郎 – How To Live With A Phantom

椎名林檎 – 勝訴ストリップ

細野晴臣 – 終わりの季節

くるり – 東京

神聖かまってちゃん – 映画

ザ・フォーク・クルセダーズ – 悲しくてやりきれない

大貫妙子 & 坂本龍 – a life

松たか子 – a piece of life

坂本慎太郎 – 君はそう決めた

神聖かまってちゃん – グロい花

ゆらゆら帝国 – おはようまだやろう

Joy Division – Disorder

28 Feb 2014

Yuja Wang at Barbican Hall in London

The concert was held on 16th February in a
London Symphony Orchestra concert hall at Barbican
After years of anticipation I have finally managed to attend a concert of my beloved Chinese pianist Yuja Wang. I've been a fan of her the very first time she appeared on medici.tv. and I was frankly thrilled to eventually see her in live performance. Young, joyful, beautiful and the most vital of all, incredibly talented.

On February, Yuja played not only few concerts in London, but also led free of charge workshops which I, sadly, was not able to be a participant of.

From all the events only one of them was recital and this is what I decided upon. Piano concertos are great, but if I wanted to listen to her play, there is no better way than solo performance.

Yuja was outstanding that night and there is no doubt about it. Obviously, the audience did not want her to leave soon, and therefore, after a massive applause and standing ovations she gave us 5 encores.
Unfortunately, I cannot recall all of them, but she performed the famous Chopin's Valse Op. 64 No. 2 . Her interpretation of that piece is exceptional and I was always wondering whether I'll be given a chance to listen to it.

Prokofiev Sonata No 3 in A minor, Op 28
Chopin Sonata No 3 in B minor, Op 58
Kapustin Variations for Piano, Op 41
Chopin Nocturne No 1 in C minor, Op 48
Chopin Ballade No 3 In A-Flat Major, Op 47
Stravinsky Petrouchka: Three Movements for Piano

I was not really that familiar with the program, although I love Chopin and I know all of his works to some extent. No much to say, she played his and works and others flawless and also, in my opinion, emotionally balanced.
I really liked the music of Ukrainian contemporary composer Kapustin. Yuja loves jazz and I'm happy she can include that style of music in her concerts making them not entirely classical. Seemed and sounded like a great fun for her and for the gathered people.

All I was able to see from my seat was her face though. I'd have given a lot to see the keyboard and hands flowing around back and forth. I would also gladly exchange few words with her, but there has not been any chance to meet her face to face. No meet and greet at all. Maybe next time.
I'd probably ask her for allowance to touch her hands for a while in order to make sure they are a real thing...

23 Feb 2014

A New World: intimate music from FINAL FANTASY Report

This article will be available on Gamemusic.net from tomorrow

Music from video games is developing and there is no doubt about that. One of the series that helped the industry to move forward was Final Fantasy. Music from this franchise became so popular that nowadays, we experience concert tours of “Distant Worlds: Music from Final Fantasy” all around the globe. But producers promise more and that being said, we had the innovative „Final Symphony” in London last year.
This time, again in the capital of England, “A new World: intimidate music from Final Fantasy” was brought into existence. The event was planned to be given more cameral atmosphere, which supposed to allow listeners to connect with the music in even more emotional way.

Located in the east part of London, one of the concert hall of London Symphonic Orchestra is actually a church that does not really look prominent neither outside nor inside. Nevertheless, the important thing is what occurred in the center of it.
Without surprise, Arnie Roth was the conductor. Followed by him the performers included pianist Benyamin Nuss, Navarra String Quartet and few other invited artists (guitar, drums, clarinet, flute, contrabass…).
As Arnie Roth said, the choice of musicians is the most important part of creating such event. It is hard not to agree with him and admit that the selection was perfect. The group played at ease, with visible joy on their faces.

The concert started with „One-Winged Angel” (FF VII). No need to explain that to fans, but this track usually That article is available on does not work as a fanfare nor is it an infamous composition (we were promised new arrangements).
Generally, among a huge number of chunks that had never been played live, a few widely recognizable compositions were played. One of them was the aforementioned “One-Winged Angel”, but also “Those Who Fight” (FF VII) or “To Zanarkand” (FF X) that has beautifully enclosed the spectacle.
It is essential to mention that not everything has been composed by Nobuo Uematsu, as the music from Final Fantasy XII or XIII was also in the programme (Hideki Sakamoto, Masashi Hamauzu).

There were solo performances, too. „Eruyt Village” (FF XII) as well as „Those Who Fight” and „Gustaberg” (FF I) were played on the piano by Benyamin Nuss. The tracks contrast between rather romantic “Eruyt Village” and „Gustaberg” and dynamic “Those Who Fight”, but the young pianist showed great skills in both cases.
Another solo instrument was the guitar. “Elia the Maide of Water” (FF III) which was played on it, only ensure us that the choice of instrumentation was ideal.
Besides solo, we also listened to duets. That was “Troia” (FF IV) arranged on guitar and cello as well as “The Promise” and “Blinded By Light” (FF XIII) on piano and violin.

One of the most anticipated moment of the concert was the performance of „Dark World” (FF VI) in which both Nobu Uematsu and Arnie Roth (violin) were announced to participate together.
Easy to spot synthesizer which was placed next to the piano, clearly suggested it was the Japanese who was supposed to play on it. The arrangement was very intriguing and definitely came out as a highlight among all the other works.

There were some humoristic aspects, as „Chocobo’s theme medley” and after intermission „Moogle’s theme medley” were played. Especially the first of them was outstanding. They even used a toy which sound reminded of Chocobo’s squeal. The audience seemed amused.

Majority of arrangements were played ensemble, although some of them were performed by the Navarra String Quartet only. And not only were they flawless, but their performance was literally heart-breaking.
We listened to “Fight with Seymour” (FF X), “A New World” (FF V), “Fragments of Memories” (FF VIII), “Town” (FF I), “The Decisive Battle” (FF VI), “Rebel Army Theme” (FF XI), “The Zanarkand” (FF X) and “Force Your Way” (FF VIII).

“A new World: intimate music from Final Fantasy” is a project that authors can be proud of. To my mind, they managed to achieve the goal. I personally participated in “Distant World” before and I feel the difference between these events. It was not a mass concert. It is not overstating that the audience integrated with artists. Besides, it was again proven how enormous is the library of Final Fantasy music and how much still can be presented live.                                                         
There were CDs and posters (of Nobuo Uematsu and Arnie Roth) available to purchase in the lobby.
The only thing that has left me unfulfilled is that you had to buy a double-prized VIP ticket in order to greet and meat the stars. All in all it is not connected to the music which was truly magical, as if from a “New World”.

At the end, I would like to mention there is a huge possibility of a CD release (According to what Arnie Roth).
However, if you fancy poor quality recordings uploaded on youtube, here you go (although some tracks seem to be missing from that playlist).