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Violin Concerto


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Product Details

  • Composer: Ohguri
  • Audio CD (May 20 2003)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Ncl
  • ASIN: B00008OP1N
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #261,151 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Allegro
2. Lento
3. Allegro Vivace
4. Fantasy On Osaka Folk Tunes
5. Legend For Orchestra - After The Tale Of Ama-no-Iwayado
6. Rhapsody On Osaka Nursery Rhymes

Product Description

Originally a horn player in the Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra, Hiroshi Ohguri was the leading composer of Osaka, a city with its own special culture and spoken language very different in character from that of Tokyo. Much of Ohguri' music reflects the sou

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Format: Audio CD
Naxos is bringing us, slowly, classical music by Japanese composers. Recently I was struck by a disc of music by Akio Yashiro (1929-1976). In this CD we have music by his slighter older compatriot, Hiroshi Ohguri (sometimes transliterated as Oguri) (1918-1982). He was in the first generation of Japanese composers writing Western-style music. Much has been written about the influence of Asian music on Western classical music, all the way back to the stereotyped use of pentatonic scales in 'The Mikado' to the burst of interest by composers like Debussy and Ravel after an Asian Exposition in Paris in 1888 on up to modern composers like Lou Harrison and Olivier Messaien. But little has been written in the West about the influence Western music had on Asian composers. Of course I am speaking here of Asian composers using Western orchestral instruments. A few symphony orchestras were founded there early in the century but native composers didn't really get a start until much later. Ohguri himself started out as a horn player in the Japan Philharmonic (now the NHK Symphony) but soon moved to the Osaka Philharmonic, the orchestra heard on this disc, and was a lifelong friend of its revered conductor, Takashi Asahina (1908-2001), surely the conductor with the record for the longest tenure at one orchestra, more than fifty years. Ohguri, trained entirely in Japan, had complete mastery of Western compositional techniques, and indeed the earliest (and longest) piece on this CD, the Violin Concerto, sounds as if it could have been written, except for some use of various pentatonic scales, by, say, an Eastern European composer. Indeed, it is somewhat faceless, a sort of Bartók-and-water composition that is more than competent but with little individuality.Read more ›
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 2 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Another unknown Japanese composer June 22 2003
By J Scott Morrison - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Naxos is bringing us, slowly, classical music by Japanese composers. Recently I was struck by a disc of music by Akio Yashiro (1929-1976). In this CD we have music by his slighter older compatriot, Hiroshi Ohguri (sometimes transliterated as Oguri) (1918-1982). He was in the first generation of Japanese composers writing Western-style music. Much has been written about the influence of Asian music on Western classical music, all the way back to the stereotyped use of pentatonic scales in 'The Mikado' to the burst of interest by composers like Debussy and Ravel after an Asian Exposition in Paris in 1888 on up to modern composers like Lou Harrison and Olivier Messaien. But little has been written in the West about the influence Western music had on Asian composers. Of course I am speaking here of Asian composers using Western orchestral instruments. A few symphony orchestras were founded there early in the century but native composers didn't really get a start until much later. Ohguri himself started out as a horn player in the Japan Philharmonic (now the NHK Symphony) but soon moved to the Osaka Philharmonic, the orchestra heard on this disc, and was a lifelong friend of its revered conductor, Takashi Asahina (1908-2001), surely the conductor with the record for the longest tenure at one orchestra, more than fifty years. Ohguri, trained entirely in Japan, had complete mastery of Western compositional techniques, and indeed the earliest (and longest) piece on this CD, the Violin Concerto, sounds as if it could have been written, except for some use of various pentatonic scales, by, say, an Eastern European composer. Indeed, it is somewhat faceless, a sort of Bartók-and-water composition that is more than competent but with little individuality. It is, however, played brilliantly by violinist Kazuhiro Takagi and the Osaka Philharmonic conducted by Tatsuya Shimono. And lest there be any doubt, the Osaka band is a world-class orchestra.
It is in the other pieces recorded here, all of them later than the 1963 Concerto, that Ohguri's personality emerges. Perhaps it's because of my own unavoidable Western cultural bias, but I'm much charmed by the Japanese touches in 'The Fantasy on Osaka Folk Tunes,' 'Legend for Orchestra,' and 'Rhapsody on Osaka Nursery Rhymes.' Of course I am not familiar with the source material for these pieces, but there is plenty here that is identifiably Japanese - the large-interval appoggiaturas and slow tremolos, the bending of notes as is done on native string and wind instruments, modified pentatonic scales [and they are not all the simple CDFGA that we can all identify], elements of exuberant taiko drumming - mixed with more usual Western effects. There is rhythmic vitality abounding, and indeed in several spots in 'Legend' one would swear Ohguri was paying homage to the rhythms in, say, 'West Side Story.' It strikes me that the 13-minute 'Rhapsody' particularly is a successful mélange of Western - even American - and Japanese materials. Just listen to the opening fanfare - it could have come straight out of, say, a Max Steiner movie score - followed immediately by a charming tune, presumably one of the Osaka nursery rhymes. One has no sense of the one grafted onto the other; rather, they are integrated into a pleasing whole.
I would urge this disc on anyone who is even the least bit interested in hearing music from Asia. I have a strong suspicion - without knowing for sure - that there is an as-yet-undiscovered treasure trove of similar music and one hopes that Naxos will continue bringing examples to us here in the West.
Review by Scott Morrison
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Modestly appealing if hardly mandatory listening July 21 2009
By G.D. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Hiroshi Ohguri (1918-1982) is another worthwhile but hardly earth-shaking discovery of Naxos's interesting Japanese Classics series. The violin concerto is overall more concerned with rhythmic than thematic development, but is full of energy and power. The first movement, in traditional sonata form, is ferociously spirited while the second movement consists of some finely constructed variations on a nursery rhyme. It is, overall, a rather fine work and - despite being the most conventional - the finest on the disc.

The Fantasy draws on traditional religious music (both Shinto and Buddhist) and is, to a certain extent, a crowd-pleaser, although a rather forgettable one. Legend is a programmatic work, again rather well-constructed and somewhat more modern-sounding, but in the end hardly a work I am going to return to very often. The same goes for the Rhapsody on Osaka Nursery Rhymes, which - despite skillful and inventive meshing of various themes, and engagingly colorful orchestration - is not a work that stays in the memory.

The performances are excellent, however, bringing power and vitality to the works; colorful, rhythmically incisive and with fierce urgency when needed. Sound quality is good as well. In short, while I didn't find this one to be among the most exciting releases in the series, those who are interested can proceed with confidence.


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