Akira Kosemura: How My Heart Sings

I wonder how the world would change if a copy of Akira Kosemura's How My Heart Sings were to be slipped into the mail boxes of all of our war-obsessed leaders. Call me a naive simpleton, but there's one side of me that would like to believe some greater semblance of harmony and sanity might begin to prevail. A silly thought, I know, but it's the kind that a beautiful recording like Kosemura's naturally engenders.

Laid down over four days last September and October, the album's twelve tracks add up to a graceful and oft-stirring forty-five minutes. Eight pieces feature Kosemura's piano playing alone, while the other four add violinist Mika Shirasawa and saxophonist Shin Aaraki to two tracks apiece. Shirasawa adds her vibrato-laden playing to “Gray,” a wistful waltz with a main melody so lovely it could melt the coldest heart, and later lends her singing tone to the sparkling “Light Dance.” Aaraki complements Kosemura's piano playing with soprano sax during “Mirage” and adds interest by doubling his sound using multi-tracking; “Pluie Froide,” by contrast, is reminiscent of the kind of piece one might hear on a Jan Garbarek album. Above all else, the pianist's compositions are harmonious and melody-centered, so anyone expecting experimental boundary-pushing is looking in the wrong place. The pieces are tastefully arranged, with Kosemura careful to never overload his elegant and melancholy material with needless clutter that would get in the way of the songs' lilting melodies. The arrangements for the tender ballads “Nocturne” and “Fragile,” for instance, are sparse in the extreme, but the pieces hardly suffer for being so.

Though I've probably said much the same thing when reviewing the Tokyo-based musician's past releases, I'll say it anyway: this latest may be the most beautiful one to date. It's certainly gorgeous to look at, presented as it is in a hard-cover mini-booklet that contains thirteen still-life photographs along with the CD itself. To Schole's credit, the material is presented in a luxurious manner that, sparing no expense, enhances music so ravishing it would still win over the listener even if the presentation weren't so elaborate.

May 2011