CD “Japan: Musical Offering” – Fukuda Teruhisa

In January 2018, the new CD of Fukuda Teruhisa has been released. I was waiting for this CD to come out since I heard his concert in November 2015 in Genève (Switzerland) and was totally mesmerised by it. So, of course, this post is not an objective review, but just some personal impressions I’d like to share.

Fukuda Teruhisa is well known for his interpretations of contemporary music. He recorded several CD of it. As for the traditional repertoire, his discography features a solo CD of “Kinko-ryū pieces” and a Sankyoku CD “Music of the Edo period” (trio with koto and shamisen). But this is the first CD where he only plays Koten honkyoku, meaning very old traditional music.

The concert, November 29, 2015

Back to the concert in November 2015. It was held in the Ethnographic museum of Genève as part of an exhibition about Buddhism.IMG_0296

The concert itself was presented as a musical offering, starting and finishing with the honkyoku Tamuke. An explanation about the music was given before the concert by the musicologist and composer Tamba Akira. Then, the offering part of the concert flew by with no other sounds than shakuhachi and bowls. (As a gift for the audience, Fukuda Teruhisa played at the end a few extra pieces with his wife, the shamisen player Kineya Shiho).

For me, it was hypnotising. I completely lost track of the time, like in the Zen temple Ryōan-Ji in Kyoto. I knew most of the pieces, but for some of them, I heard Fukuda sensei’s interpretation for the first time. It was deep and clear, coming directly from the heart, full of gratitude and loving-kindness. It was also strong, contrasted, full of courage of taking risks and, at the same time, mastering every little detail, and therefore, so lively. It was far from a aseptic performance, but like music should always be performed. And on top of all, what touched me the most deeply, was the spirituality and the sincerity in the music.

(photos © Daniel Lifermann)

This inspired me so much that, as soon I was back home, I started immediately to practice the pieces I didn’t know. And I’m still doing. It takes years to go to the deep heart of this music.

The CD

“I chose to perform the following pieces in the spirit of a musical offering dedicated to my instrument because in playing the shakuhachi, I am able to follow the path to illumination. I also wish to express my gratitude to all those who have been and will be part of my life.”
Fukuda Teruhisa

The day before the concert, Fukuda Teruhisa recorded a CD of these pieces, in one long day of studio.21 So I couldn’t wait to hear these pieces again on the CD. Since the concert, I have been practicing all the pieces, performed some of them several times, grew in the music, the shakuhachi, and meditation. I have a special and different connection with each of them.

The CD contains 7 pieces: Ajikan, Echigo Sanya, Kokū, Reibo, Tamuke, Saji, Takiotoshi. Explanations about the pieces are given in the booklet. There are all performed on a 2.4 shakuhachi, except Tamuke, which is performed on the standard 1.8.

I won’t talk about the pieces, just listen to them. You’ll find back the characteristics of the Hijiri style, and particularly the hazushibuki, the musical expression through a strong control of the breath. And also, how Fukuda Teruhisa is exploring each sound, going to the edge of it (and sometimes beyond), always in movement, making subtle variations in colour, like a painter. When I took lessons from him, he taught me how to play each (repeated) note slightly differently. “Don’t do exactly the same thing twice”. Like each moment is slightly different from the previous one and the next one, each note has to be unique.
Differences between style and school go much further than repertoire, notation and which finger to use to attack tsu-re, it is for me how you listen to the music and what you’d like to put in it. It is deeply related to the path of life you choose, and I’m very grateful to have such great teachers as Fukuda Teruhisa and Daniel Seisoku Lifermann to guide me on this journey.

Here is a link to the publisher of the CD.

 

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