Review / 批評

■佐藤司美子『幻日(Parhelion)』レビュー

生き続ける民謡 - 人々の営みの声を伝えるピアノ / 松山晋也(音楽評論家)

伝統音楽/民謡はやっかいだ。ヘタに手を出すと火傷する。なぜならそれは、民族衣装と同じように、地域社会の歴史や風土や文化の中から生まれ、育まれ、彫琢と醸成を繰り返しつつ継承されてきたものだから。そこには市井の人々の無数の記憶や思いや知恵が堆積し、同時に極めて合理的な美も備わっている。ある意味、究極のポップ・ミュージックでもあるのだ。その重みを真摯に受け止めることなく上澄みだけパクって醜態をさらしてしまった音楽家は、ロック、ジャズ、クラシック等々どのジャンルでも枚挙にいとまがない。剽窃することなく、あるいは、すり寄ったりおもねったりすることもなく、演奏者が自分自身の語法に依って伝統の神髄と対峙した時に、初めて聴き手の心に響くものだ。

岩手で生まれ育った佐藤司美子はピアニスト/作曲家としてクラシック、それも現代音楽や実験音楽を徹底的に学んだ音楽家だが、伝統音楽/民謡の美しさと恐ろしさを十分に知っている。それは、岩手の風土が、匂いが、風が、彼女自身の血肉になっているからである。だから彼女はこのアルバムでも、民謡の上澄みだけをパクることなく、その本質を自身の語法だけで鮮やかに抉り出してゆく。西洋音楽の顔つきをしてはいるが、しかしここからは人々の日々の営みの声がはっきりと聴こえてくる。


Review of Sumiko Sato: Parhelion―piano music inspired by Iwate folk songs / Lynette Westendorf, M.M., D.M.A.

Congratulations to pianist and composer Sumiko Sato on a brilliant new release Parhelion―piano music inspired by Iwate folk songs. Dr. Sato made the recording for solo piano at the Iwate Kenmin Kaikan Hall, Feb. 22 and 28, 2021, to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the Great Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. The hall’s sound quality is beautifully clear and the acoustics are alive.

“Homage to Deer Dance” is a work of six movements, inspired by the rhythm and songs from Sato's transcription of the performance "The First Garden" of Hanamaki Kasuga-style deer dance. It was composed in 2016 for a concert commemorating the 120th anniversary of Kenji Miyazawa’s birth.

The six movements (Prologue, In the Moonlight, Fun Play, Journey to Repose, From Afar, and Epilogue) range from sublime simplicity to dramatic virtuosity, all developed from the opening melody of the Prologue.

Prologue opens with a beautiful simple melody that develops into rhythmic march-like energy. Ms. Sato’s control of tone at the piano is evident from the first phrase. The next movement, In the Moonlight, contains quiet and arpeggiated melodies, the repeated patterns tender without sentimentality. Fun Play is energetic and syncopated, followed by Journey to Repose, which demonstrates depth of strength in a repeated rhythmic motif, developing from the bass to the treble with clustered harmonies. Each movement is a logical transition into new compositional ideas and technique, rendered elegantly in both composition and performance by Ms. Sato.

From Afar carries a mysterious mood from a simple pattern into a dramatic chromatic shift before returning with a short coda of the initial tune. The Epilogue is a full, active and virtuosic work encompassing the entire range of the piano, demonstrating Sato’s sure mastery of the instrument. A live audience―prohibited by the Covid-19 pandemic―would have been mightily impressed.

The next set on the CD is “Variations of Nanbu Cow-herding Song,” in seven movements (Theme, Fugue (Sage), Man, Deity, Madness, Ogre, and Woman). This set of songs develops the melody of Iwate folk songs in various styles. Each title is taken from the program of Noh play; “Nanbu” is a former name of the Iwate prefecture.

The Theme is simple and short, followed by a contrapuntal development in the Fugue, performed with a vibrant sense of line and development. Man is an active and lively short movement in triple meter, very tuneful. Deity begins with a single melodic line, gradually introducing lovely harmonic details, in a gentle echo between the hands, thoughtful and delicate. Madness is active, but perhaps not quite insane. The virtuosic melody is intertwined between the hands before giving way to a set of rich chords at the end. Ogre is an energetic and dynamic movement with angular melodies and driving rhythm, but the creature is spent rather quickly in the short piece. It is playful and fun, in spite of the ominous title.

The last movement, Woman, is a thoughtful waltz, both wistful and of strong character. The recurring melody wafts into varied arrangements and leaves the listener with the lovely tune in mind. The last movement of the recording is Kuriyagawa bushi, arranged by Sato. The traditional melody is a perfect ending for this mature and dynamic recording by Sumiko Sato. Her compositional creativity combined with her ever confident and vibrant virtuosity will bring repeated joy to the listener. Her treatment of traditional melodies in a modern vernacular is brilliant.

A final word of compliment goes to the creator of the CD artwork and designer of the CD cover. It pays perfect homage to the character of the music―elegantly modern within the scope and depth of the traditional.