Bunraku and new audio

by nathanbontrager

Ever since performing Luciano Berio’s Sequenza for solo cello I have been intrigued by pieces which call for the performer to approach the cello as if it were a different instrument.  In the case of the Berio Sequenza, the performer must master left hand pizzicato techniques which are accompanied by drumming patterns on the body of the instrument using the right hand fingers.  These percussive elements borrow from Kandyan drumming from Sri Lankan.  Berio wrote the Sequenza for Roham de Saram, himself Sri Lankan and a master of the Kandyan drum.

Rohan de Saram

I came across a repertoire list today with some interesting works for solo cello including one by Japanese composer Toshiro Mayuzumi entitled Bunraku.  Bunraku is a form of Japanese puppet theater which features music played on the Shamisen.  Mayuzumi seeks to emulate the technique of the Shamisen on the cello through aggresive and resonant pizzicato techniques (the Shamisen is played with a very large plectrum).  I purchased a recording by cellist Wenn-Sinn Yang from a disc that features many of the most dominant works for solo cello from the 20th century (Crumb, Hindemith, the “Sacher” pieces).  I find Bunraku to be a welcome mix of tonal/folk and modern classical harmonies especially in contrast to the extremely atonal (and extremely wonderful) pieces that round out the album.

Speaking of mixing styles, I have also posted another recording of Broadcloth, this time from a recent performance at Audubon Strings in New Haven.  The piece begins with a free improvisation and moves to a section determined by the pitches of the open strings of the violin family.  You can listen to Broadcloth on the Media page and Bunraku via YouTube below.