Jason Kao Hwang

Federico Albanese
Autistici & Justin Varis
Matt Bartram
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Patrick Castillo
Matt Davignon
Forrest Fang
Alejandro Franov
Karen Gottlieb
Mark Harris
Jason Kao Hwang
C Joynes / Nick Davis
GX Jupitter-Larsen
Lowe & Kalma
Lorenzo Masotto
Kazuya Matsumoto
Martin McCain
Paranoid Winter
Michael Robinson
Erika Tazawa
Vittoria Fleet
Daniel Wohl

Compilations / Mixes / Remixes / Reissues
20 Years Henry St. Music
Future Disco Vol 9

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Alter Echo & E3
Gordon Beeferman
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Erika Tazawa: Rhythm of Silence
Belarca Records

Realized superbly by Erika Tazawa, Rhythm of Silence presents a wonderful programme of contemporary solo piano works by composers from the US, Italy, and The Netherlands. Though it's her album debut, the Japanese pianist has been performing professionally since 2004 and has consistently captivated audiences at international festivals and concerts with her technical prowess and expressive interpretations. On this fifty-five-minute collection, Tazawa, playing a Ravenscroft piano, performs works by Francesco Di Fiore, Douwe Eisenga, Marc Mellits, Matteo Sommacal, and William Susman (the latter also the album's producer).

As such, Rhythm of Silence is a natural complement to the recently released Pianosequenza by Di Fiore in that it too includes compositions by the Italian pianist as well as Susman. There is a key difference, however: whereas the latter's conceptual focus centers on film-based material (and includes pieces by Nyman, Glass, and Tiersen in addition to those by Di Fiore and Susman), Rhythm of Silence is united by a shared musical sensibility and compositional language. That sense of cohesiveness is also strengthened by having the three related pieces by Susman distributed throughout the set-list rather than presented together.

While contrasts of mood, tempo, and dynamics are present, the selections are characterized by tonality and melodicism. Tazawa's considerable technical ability is evident throughout, most conspicuously in challenging uptempo pieces (such as Sommacal's ultra-dramatic “I Buried The Truth” and Marc Mellits' “Triumph of the Water Witch”), yet interestingly it's the album's slower settings that make the strongest impression. Susman's “Quiet Rhythms: Prologue and Action No. 9” introduces the album on a splendid note with delicately calibrated waves of sound, the material in this case more centered on mood and texture than melody per se. With this chiming scene-setter, a tone of refinement and elegance is established that will carry on until Marc Mellits' Agu brings the project to a close.

Di Fiore's three-part Miniature opens with trilling volleys (“Discovery”) that more rapidly perpetuate the wave-like effect of Susman's opener before “Hush” demonstrates how entrancing a sparsely designed meditation can be when it's rendered with such expressive feeling; while it's not as minimal in design as “Hush,” Susman's “Quiet Rhythms: Prologue and Action No. 18” is as gorgeous. Still, as lovely as they are, arguably the most affecting piece is Dutch composer Eisenga's “Theme from Wiek,” a wistful, Schubert-esque setting whose aching lilt leaves a lasting mark, especially when it stretches out for eleven exquisite minutes. All things considered, Rhythm of Silence makes for an excellent addition to Belarca Records' modest discography.

February 2016