Chieko Mori,
Katyou Fuugetsu
(Felmay, 2006)

The koto is a traditional Japanese zither, about six feet long and usually with 13 strings. It is an exotic instrument to Western ears, although most will recognize koto music as archetypically Japanese. Although you may never have seen a live performance, you have likely heard the instrument in films or television. Undoubtedly, the music will have been stately, perhaps as a backdrop to a formal ceremony.

This CD is a fine introduction, since Chieko Mori plays a wide variety of compositions in the seven tracks. She adds vocals on parts of two of them. At first, everything may sound alike until you are acclimated to the koto, which has a very unique sound to those not used to hearing it. But Katyou has pronounced differences in rhythm and playing techniques.

The CD booklet thoroughly describes each composition. When a composer is not listed for a certain song, I assume Mori wrote it herself or improvised it.

Mori has worked with Western music and moved to Italy in 1999 (Felmay is an Italian label). The music on Katyou Fuugetsu does not seem to have any Occidental influence, however. It may take many listenings to get used to the different musical scales and the slow, deliberate pace.

This is a CD for quiet, relaxing listening. Even the most casual listener will recognize that Mori's delicate playing has a rare beauty worth exploring.

by Dave Howell
4 November 2006

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