Elizabeth Falconer, John Falconer, Tari Nelson-Zagar | Spell of Spring: Selected Works of Sawai Tadao (Volume I)

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Spell of Spring: Selected Works of Sawai Tadao (Volume I)

by Elizabeth Falconer, John Falconer, Tari Nelson-Zagar

Contemporary classical Japanese music: dramatic and compelling works for the harp-like koto, shakuhachi bamboo flute and violin by the great composer and koto virtuoso Sawai Tadao
Genre: World: Asian
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Song of the Wind (Kaze no Uta)
John Falconer, Elizabeth Falconer
10:14 $0.99
2. Like a Bird (Tori No Yo- Ni)
Elizabeth Falconer
9:15 $0.99
3. Singing Sand (Naki Suna Yo)
Elizabeth Falconer, Tari Nelson-Zagar
10:00 $0.99
4. Spell of Spring (Haru no Gotoku)
John Falconer, Elizabeth Falconer
11:10 $0.99
5. Fireflies (Hotaru)
Elizabeth Falconer
10:31 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
"Meditative without being mushy; rhythmic sections as well as slow streams of notes create a calming, otherworldly atmosphere." - The Stranger, Seattle

"Notable Northwest Recording" pick from Seattle's KBCS Radio Station!

This recording is a tribute to the Japanese composer Sawai Tadao (1937-1997), and is the result of a year-long series of Sawai’s music in Seattle entitled “Simply Sawai: A Concert Series in Four Seasons” in 2007-08. The music is dramatic and compelling, performed by American koto master Elizabeth Falconer, with John Falconer (shakuhachi bamboo flute) and Tari Nelson-Zagar (violin).

Elizabeth Falconer was a longtime student of Sawai Tadao and his wife Kazue in Japan and was a member of their ensemble. Her lifelong dedication to the instrument and her love of Japan has resulted in numerous recordings, awards and international recognition. Her personal style of musical expressiveness also comes effectively into play as she explores these works, from the very melodic koto and shakuhachi duet, "Song of the Wind" to the more poignant bass koto solo, "Fireflies", inspired by "Grave of the Fireflies", a beautiful and sad story of war. Here with her are her husband John on the meditative shakuhachi bamboo flute on two works and Tari Nelson-Zagar, on a stunning violin performance in "Singing Sand."

This is the first of a two-CD set to be published in 2008;the second is "Stirring Autumn." They are the only collection of Sawai's work published in the States.



to write a review

Gabe Strand

Dramatic Japanese Masterpieces
This album is a remarkable listening experience. Elizabeth Falconer has been performing and recording compelling music for the koto, a Japanese zither, for many years, but this series of recordings of compositions by her teacher Sawai Tadao stands out to me. Two volumes of (what I assume will be) a 4-volume series are available, and both contain dramatic, charismatic contemporary Japanese music. If you have heard traditional Japanese music for strings, be prepared for a shock. The compositions here are full of suspense, shifting moods, and a dramatic intensity that exceeded my expectations.

Just the sounds alone create evocative combinations: Elizabeth is joined at times by her husband John Falconer (and other half of Duo En) on the shakuhachi bamboo flute, and the complicated musical dialogue between the crisp, rhythmic koto and fluid shakuhachi is realized expertly. Likewise for a collaboration between Elizabeth and violinist Tari Nelson-Zagar, which again takes advantage of the contrast between two very distinct sounding instruments.

Nothing on this album is more enjoyable than the cinematic experience it offers. The fact that such abstract music is capable of providing such a vivid emotional impact should be credited to Tadao's dynamic compositional imagination, and to his student Elizabeth's ability to bring that imagination to life in her performance of his music. Tori No Yo-Li (Like a Bird) serves as a prime example of the cinematic qualities of Tadao's contemporary vision. Elizabeth's playing is affecting and impossibly evocative in this piece, which depicts a bird in flight. The turmoil, excitement, and soaring elegance of this piece of music immediately captures the imagination and puts you in the center of the experience of flight.

Elizabeth's playing seems to extend the possibilities of the koto. Her collaborators on this project, including John Falconer, Tari Nelson-Zagar, vocalist Jessica Kenney, and Brian Falconer (John and Elizabeth's son) create such an expanded and subtle musical pallet that it seems altogether otherwordly at times. The result is a remarkable tribute to the innovations of Tadao, and a remarkable vision for contemporary Japanese music.


Spell of Spring: Selected Works of Sawai Tadao (Volume I)
An incredible collection of intriguing pieces. The soul seems to soar when listening to this collection of Sawai’s works. A must have!