Decisions 決断


A year ago, in March 2022, I went to hear a concert at Tazukuri Hall in Chofu. It was given by Irodrio, a piano trio whose members met at Toho Gakuen University, Japan’s top private music college (also in Chofu). Listening to them play, I felt strongly they were the group I had been looking for. That evening I sent them an email. And so began our year-long journey to today. The recording is done. The record label is decided. We have a CD release date. And the hall where we did the recording has been booked for the CD launch concert (6 May). It has been a marvelous journey that will reach its destination – also another beginning – on 24 May when the CD is released.

Shortly after my email, I met with Irodrio to have a play through of the piece. Everything clicked, and we decided there and then on the recording project. I absolutely knew that asking them to record Trio Concertante was the right decision when they told me which other piece they wanted to include on the album. I am a huge fan of Shostakovich. To have his amazing Piano Trio No. 2 as the second half of the album is somewhat daunting to say the least! But, I could not have picked a better piece myself.

For the recording location, we chose iPlaza, a medium-sized concert hall in Inagi city, just south of Chofu. It has a good reputation as a recording location for its resonant acoustics. We discussed whether to go for a concert hall or a recording studio. Basically with a hall you get live performance acoustics, but with a studio you get sound-proofing and equipment. We went for the “live feel”, although it meant a nervous few days ahead of the recording as we wondered if an approaching typhoon might scuttle all our plans! Fortunately, the weather gods were kind to us.

We asked Hara Yasuyuki of Chofu Records to be the recording engineer. Hara-san has worked mainly in the pop industry, but his style worked brilliantly for this project. There are two main approaches to CD recordings. The first is often used in the classical world. You start at the beginning, and at the first mishap you stop, go back a few bars, and then restart recording. By joining together the consecutive takes you achieve a complete performance. The second is to do a complete take and then record “patches” to cover places which could be better. This latter approach is high risk in long pieces of classical music because tempi and atmosphere can vary subtly but noticeably from take to take. You really need to get close to a perfect complete take – which is much easier with a 3-minute pop song than a 12-minute movement of a new virtuoso piece! But Hara-san pushed hard for the second approach. It paid rich dividends. Of all the tracks on the CD, there is one that stands out for me. The fiendishly difficult Presto agitato is an adrenaline-soaked single take and the holy grail of the recording world: a flawless live performance on disc.

After two long days, we were all confident that we had made a special recording. It made sense to aim high, and it was a huge honour when Octavia Records agreed to release the CD on their Exton label. As the disc went into production we worked on cover design and programme notes. The project transformed from recordings of two pieces into an album that feels like so much more than the sum of its two parts.

As a composer, it is a total pleasure to have a recording that so completely captures the spirit of one of my pieces. It is exactly how I imagined it in my head … and more. There are places – I will not say where – at which Nakatsuru-san, Ishii-san, and Kagawa-san went beyond the sheet music and added their own signatures to the recording. Actually, these are the moments in the recording that give me most pleasure. Trio Concertante might be my composition, but this recording is definitely Irodrio’s performance of it. A composer simply puts musical notation on a page. Musicians bring it to life.

Trio Concertante is a piece about a major life decision (see the programme notes here). We have made many pivotal decisions in the past year that have turned two pieces of music into an album. I feel we got them all right. There will hopefully be many future performances of Trio Concertante, but this first one will always be really special for me. I hope people will enjoy listening to it as much as we enjoyed making it.

25 March 2023




レコーディング・エンジニアは、調布レコードの原裕之さんにお願いしました。原さんは、主にポップス産業で活躍されている方ですが、今回の企画ではそのスタイルが見事に合致しました。CDレコーディングには、大きく分けて2つのアプローチがあります。1つ目のアプローチは、クラシックの世界でよく使われる方法です。曲の冒頭から録音を始めて、最初のミスで一旦止め、何小節か戻って、また録音し直すとういうものです。連続したテイクをつなぎ合わせることで、完全な演奏を実現するのです。もう一方のアプローチは、完全なテイクを録り終えてから、改善できそうな箇所を、部分部分で「繋ぎ合わせて」録る方法です。クラシックの長い曲では、テンポや雰囲気がテイク毎に、微妙に、しかし明らかに変化することがあるため、この方法は危険性が高いといえます。そのため、完璧な完全テイクに近づける必要があるわけですが、これは、12分間の技巧的な新曲よりも、3分のポップス曲で行う方がはるかに簡単だと言えるでしょう!しかし、原さんが強く推したのは2番目のアプローチで、結果的にこの方法が功を奏しました。CDに収録した曲の中で、特に私の印象に残っているのは、恐ろしく難易度の高いPresto agitatoです。こちらはアドレナリン全開のワンテイクで、録音界の究極の理想ともいえる、完璧なライブ演奏をCDに収めることが叶いました。

長い2日間の後、私たちは皆、別格の録音ができたことを確信し、さらに高い目標目指すのは当然の成り行きでした。そしてOctavia RecordsExtonレーベルからCDのリリースに同意してくれた際は、大変光栄に感じました。ディスクの製造が始まると、私たちはジャケットのデザインとプログラムノートに取り組みました。この企画では、2作品の収録を行いましたが、完成したアルバムはその2作品以上のものが詰め込まれた存在へと変貌を遂げたのです。