Publication: Gramophone, Issue: April 2012...
Ishii Saidoki (Demon), Op 86. Concertante, Op 79. Percussion Concerto, ‘South – Fire – Summer’, Op 95 Ryan Scott perc Esprit Orchestra / Alex Pauk Innova F INNOVA 809 (52’ • DDD) Recorded live
Scott’s percussion versus Esprit’s orchestra in live Ishii
The late Japanese composer Maki Ishii devoted much of his creative life to works featuring percussion that fuse Western and Eastern traditions. On his new recording, Ryan Scott is soloist in three pieces demonstrating Ishii’s heightened skill at conjuring a spectrum of sonic worlds. These mesmerising scores find metallic and wooden percussion instruments alternating, blending and often entering into battle with the orchestra. The music veers from the most delicate washes of sound to cataclysmic eruptions. The demon that gives Saidoki its title is depicted through extremes of activity, bold juxtapositions and textures constantly in flux. As the soloist (portraying the demon) revels in fierce and delicate passagework on a panoply of instruments, the orchestra holds its own in Ishii’s broad palette of colours.
In the Concertante, the solo marimba collaborates or collides with instruments played by six percussionists. The rhythms are complex, the atmospheres ethereal or shattering and the range of hues wide. Ishii provides intriguing contrasts through glistening, hollow and hard sonorities. The composer’s universe is at its most expansive in the percussion concerto subtitled South – Fire – Summer, which melds Japanese and Western elements. The marimba again is prominent, along with numerous other percussion instruments, which the soloist plays in tandem with and against the orchestral forces.
At the centre of these live performances, Ryan Scott is a chameleon-like virtuoso who triumphs over the varied colouristic demands and technical challenges. Scott is joined by superb colleagues in the Concertante and elsewhere by the Esprit Orchestra, led by Alex Pauk, who make exceptionally lucid and powerful contributions. -Donald Rosenberg