Lucid Culture


Concert Review: Mamiko Iwasaki at the Organ at St. Thomas Church, NYC 3/1/09

An intriguing, enlightening and original performance by Japanese-born, American-educated, now Tokyo-based organist Mamiko Iwasaki. She opened by playing Bach on the church’s smaller, rear organ, breaking up the Prelude and Fugue BWV 552 into separate parts, wrapping the rather familiar, generally upbeat work around another standard, the composer’s version of the hymn Schmucke Dich, O liebe Seele (Praise you, Holy Spirit). It’s a slow, somewhat stern, quietly pensive work, and Iwasaki really dragged it out, lento at best. Taken as an eerie meditation, the approach worked.


She then moved to the big front organ, the old 1914 Skinner for two absolutely enchanting pieces. The first, Tsugaru Kobiki-Uta, by Japanese composer Mutsuo Tsuruta was a strangely glimmering pastorale, permutations of an old folk melody in the traditional Asian scale rising to new levels of intensity through the pipes. It’s meant to evoke the sound of spirits in the woods. But they’re playful spirits, and they hop around and jump out at you when you least expect it! By contrast, another Japanese work by Hideo Mizokami, Music from Unchu Kuyo Bosatsu was all rapt, stately blocks of ambience, an evocation of the famous Byodoin Temple, a 1052 structure in Kyoto, winding up with a miminalist yet spectacular pedal figure. Western listeners seldom get the chance to hear music this strikingly interesting, especially played by someone as obviously and effectively knowledgeable about its nuances: let’s hope Iwasaki makes a return trip sooner than later.

March 3, 2009 Posted by | Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment