Spring Sea Music of Dreams – Music for Shakuhachi and Harp

Riley Lee, shakuhachi, Marshall McGuire, harp
Classical, Japanese, New Music, World
ABC Classics 476 4870
Reviewed by , October 4th, 2014

Riley Lee and Marshall McGuire are masters of their instruments: Riley of the Japanese bamboo flute known as the shakuhachi and Marshall of the classical concert harp.

At first glance a collaboration between these two instruments from vastly different musical traditions may seem like a brave experiment in cross-cultural music. But in the hands of virtuosos of the calibre of Riley Lee and Marshall McGuire we find that Riley’s shakuhachi can take the place of the western flute in music from the European tradition and Marhsall’s harp can fulfil the role of the harp-like koto in Japanese music.

Riley Lee, shakuhachi player

Riley Lee, shakuhachi player

On this excellent CD we are treated to music from both traditions noneof which was actually composed for, but could well have been destined for western harp and Japanese shakuhachi. In fact when Australian composer Anne Boyd heard two of her pieces for harp and western transverse flute played by harp and shakuhachi she stated that this was the sound she was aiming for when composing.

There are works on this CD by composers as diverse as Franz Schubert, Benjamin Britten, Anne Boyd and several contemporary Japanese composers all of which are played with sensitivity and passion.

When I put the CD into my laptop for listening it came up with the genre ‘new age’. There is no doubt that this music would suit a shiatsu massage or a float tank but of course the quality of the compositions, the transcriptions and the playing take this CD well beyond background music for alternative healing. It is a consummate recording of two of Australia’s finest musicians.

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