Many substantial Japanese classical composers emerged during the post-WWII period. While Toru Takemitsu is the best known among them, many others remain unknown outside Japan. Mutsuo Shishido (1929-2007), falls into this category. He believed that music should adhere to humanistic expression approachable to all people while maintaining a national identity. He took inspiration and elements from local melodies or festival music, manipulated by Western contemporary techniques, to imbue his music with a Japanese identity while keeping it universally accessible.
This program will include Shishido’s most substantial piano works, “Suite Dances pour Piano,” “Suite pour le Clavier,” and his two piano sonatas. The program will also feature a selection of piano works by Shishido’s teachers, Olivier Messiaen and André Jolivet.
Among the Shishido’s works, “Suite Dance pour Piano,” his first concert work, shows his attempts of incorporating Japanese sound by using Japanese traditional modes and imitating traditional Japanese instruments. “Suite Pour le Clavier” references Japanese religious meditation as well as taiko from Shinto festivals, as well as clear influence from both Jolivet and Messiaen. His two piano sonatas were written with a lighter character and composed for a collection of pedagogical works, yet they adhere to his philosophy of implementing Japanese nationality in his music.
Having lived in both Paris and Tokyo, Shishido grappled with a bi-cultural identity, resulting in universally captivating, unique works synthesizing Western and Eastern traditions. This recital will introduce both the composer and his music to the Western audiences Shishido always wished to reach.
The performer, pianist Akina Yura, has extensively researched and recorded the complete solo piano works of Japanese composer Mutsuo Shishido. As a Presser award recipient from the Frost School of Music, she has presented programs of Shishido’s works around the world, and her debut CD, Mutsuo Shishido Complete Works for Piano, has recently been published by MSR Classics.