Masako | Masako

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New Age: Solo Instrumental Easy Listening: Adult contemporary Moods: Featuring Piano
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Masako

by Masako

Mesmerizing debut album of an amazing pianist/composer MASAKO. Relaxing yet haunting piano solos & ensembles. "That such perfection and such depth of emotion coexist in her work is the holy grail of recording and production for me." (Will Ackerman)
Genre: New Age: Solo Instrumental
Release Date: 

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1. Glastenbury, Vt
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2. Spring Snow
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3. Secret Path to Point Reyes, Pt. 1
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4. Secret Path to Point Reyes, Pt. 2
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5. Ottauquechee River
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6. Amazing Newt
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7. A Tale of Lonely Otter
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8. Remembrance, Pt. 1
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9. Remembrance, Pt. 2
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10. Moon and Stream
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11. Greening
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12. Forgotten Moments
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Solo piano pieces, duets and ensembles featuring piano.
Lyrical, melodic and emotive original compositions certain to move and mesmerize you and carry you away.

"Performances of such quality that are so rare as to be nearly mythical...some of the very finest work
I've heard in my career. " ~ Will Ackerman, Founder of Windham Hill Records

Liz Story says, "This music asks to be listend to many times. A trurly inspiring experience.
Masako's wonderful musical skills travel with an invigorating peaceful clarity....like the opportunity to
observe a clear night sky full of stars."


Reviews


to write a review

Donovan Johnson-Enlightened Piano Radio

Masako; (Self Titled)
Masako's self titled album, released this year, is one that took a number of listenings to fully appreciate. Not that the album is dull in any way, on the contrary! Masako has so much going on "behind the scenes" that it's virtually impossible to hear it all in one sitting, and it takes some studied listening to fully embrace it all. Many of the tracks are composed in what I call a "groove style," meaning that the composer lays out a structure that repeats itself over and over (the groove), and builds on that structure over the course of the piece. Done well this can be extremely effective, and Masako does it well.

In addition to this, the pieces that are more compositionally complex are absolutely a delight. Masako finds that perfect balance between the simple and the complicated, and the listener is able to sit right in the "pocket" of the music, drift away, and take a journey with her. In fact, all of the pieces on the album do this in their own way. Think of the more structured pieces as guided meditations, while the more dominant "groove style" tracks are trance inducing.

Also, listen for the very distinct Japanese influences that Masako interweaves throughout the work. They blend extremely well with her contemporary style, creating a fusion that is truly unique. The flow, recording and production of the album shine in the spirit and mastery of Will Ackerman, who had the pleasure of working on this album with Masako. Together, they were able to create a piece of art that would make a formidable debut album, truly a force to contend with.

Among my favorites on the album are the opening track "Glastenbury VT," "Secret Path To Point Reyes I," and "Ottauquechee River." These three tracks are, in my mind, absolutely brilliant. Masako's ability to create an interesting flow of variation on a groove is truly outstanding. "Amazing Newt" might be one of the most interesting in chord structure and development, and is a lovely blend of Eastern and Western sounds. "Moon and Stream" and "Greening" paint pictures of nature in all of it's glory, and create a strong sense of connection with our natural world. The final track, "Forgotten Moments," takes the album out, almost asking a question of the listener. This will leave you with a sense of intrigue and wonder, wanting to start the album over again from track one. In this way the recording is very hypnotic and engaging, prompting you to listen over and over again.

This an album that I highly recommend to anyone who is a fan of the Contemporary/New Age piano genre, especially if you enjoy listening to music that will combine enough simplicity, composition, and ethnic fusion to intrigue the mind long after you're done listening.

Serge Kozlovsky

Writings by Serge Kozlovsky / http://sergekozlovsky.com
What is music? This is the path
to reconnect the lonely beings

“Masako” is the debut album of the talented Japanese pianist with the same name. It was recorded at Imaginary Road Studios in Vermont and produced by William Ackerman who is the famous founder of legendary Windham Hill Records. The very melodious compositions of Masako were accompanied by a group of truly remarkable artists.

The music of Masako is filled with divine harmonics and a lot of subtle nuances. It streams straight from the artist’s hearts without falsehood and unnecessary embellishment. These are just the pure emotions which the performer lets flow easily. And they convey the yearnings and emotional experiences of the artist’s essence. Therefore, this music is very intimate.

Masako brightly continues the musical tradition of the great Windham Hill artists such as William Ackerman, George Winston, Michael Hedges, Liz Story, Shadowfax, to name a few. But the pianist has her own distinct style which makes the heart stopping sounds of piano, fall like the warm summer rain on the tired head. And it is not necessary to think, just listen to this healing music to empathize with it.

Kathy Parsons

From MainlyPiano
"Masako" is the beautiful debut album by pianist/composer Masako. Produced by Will Ackerman, the collection of twelve original compositions is a combination of piano solos and piano with other instruments played by artists affiliated with Ackerman’s Imaginary Road Studio in Vermont. Raised in Tokyo, Japan, Masako was already composing and singing her own tunes by the age of five. She began piano lessons at the age of four, studying with Yuko Yamaoka, a brilliant performer in her own right, and a judge for the International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow. Masako started performing professionally at the age of eighteen, working in a wide variety of musical genres. Her fluid, graceful touch and ability to become one with her instrument set her apart from many pianists, and her original compositions offer a truly unique musical voice that is strong and assured, yet gentle and soothing. Now residing in Vermont, Masako’s music is often inspired by the wonders of nature as well as by life itself.

"Masako" begins with “Glastenbury, VT” a piano solo inspired by a ghost town in her home state. A moody yet magical piece, Masako dazzles with complex chord progressions at an even tempo on her left hand while her right hand dances around the piano keyboard in a more improvisational style. What focus and concentration she must have to make this sound so effortless! “Spring Snow” evokes lovely images of snow flakes falling lazily on a bright green meadow. Mostly a piano solo, Eugene Friesen adds cello magic to the last minute of the piece. In college, I spent as much time as I could at Point Reyes in CA, and “Secret Path to Point Reyes, Part 1” brings back many memories of that beautiful and rugged area. Premik’s wind synthesizer is a lovely and haunting addition to the piano. “Part 2” is another breathtaking demonstration of how independent Masako’s hands are. Both hands are playing different intricate rhythms, yet her performance is flawless. Ackerman says in a video that Masako did many of these recordings in one take - extraordinary! I assume “Amazing Newt” is about an amphibian rather than a politician, and what a graceful, elegant piece it is! “Remembrance, Part 1” is reflective, emotional, and totally honest. Friesen again adds cello shadings, but this is mostly solo piano. “Part 1” segues into “Part 2” without a pause, bringing in light percussion and Charlie Bisharat on violin (always a treat!). “Moon and Stream” mesmerizes in much the same way watching water at night does. Deep bass notes contrast with sparkling treble notes like moonlight dancing on dark water. Gorgeous! “Forgotten Moments,” a slow, nostalgic duet with Jill Haley, is a poignant, bittersweet ending to a fantastic album. Brava, Masako!

Very highly recommended!

Solo Piano Fan

True Gems!!
Most beautiful melodies with depth and feelings I've heard in years. Who'd have thought that "new age" music can be so full of soul and yet elegant? This is what music is all about.

Shona

Unforgettable
Love this artist!
I love this artist! She expresses herself through her music and her experiences. Her beautiful piano performance gives you joy, peace, love, inspiration, courage, etc... Everyone needs a moment to escape and rerlax in this busy world, once in a while. Then, just listening to her music. It will take you to a wonderland and you will be revitalized! You will be glad to purchase this CD, GREAT MUSIC!!

Raj Manoharan (www.rajmanreviews.blogspot.com)

The RajMan Review
On her self-titled debut, Masako proves herself to be a classy and elegant composer with an ear for music and a golden touch on the keyboard.

The entire album exudes the serenity and tranquility of New England, which is no surprise considering that it is inspired by the Japan-born artist’s adopted home state of Vermont.

Under the creative guidance of Grammy-winning guitarist, Windham Hill Records founder, and producer William Ackerman and the technical acumen of engineer Rob Eaton, Masako’s beautiful collection of piano-based tunes showcases her unique and rare affinity for combining high and low keys. There is also the sense of Masako’s Japanese culture and heritage nicely filtering through the prism of contemporary new age music, especially considering her various influences, such as George Winston and many of Ackerman’s former Windham Hill artists.

Helping Masako realize her vision is a fine ensemble of world-class musicians who accentuate various tracks with tasteful hints of their brilliance. These include Premik on wind synthesizer, Charlie Bisharat on violin, Eugene Friesen on cello, Jill Haley on English horn, Tony Levin on bass, and Jeff Haynes on percussion.

This is an excellent recording and essential listening for those who enjoy fine piano-based music.

Michael Diamond

Review excerpt from Music and Media Focus
It’s a long way from being a 5 year old sitting in a tree composing and singing songs in her parent’s backyard in Tokyo to living in the mountains of Vermont and releasing a critically acclaimed CD with credits that include a host of A-list musicians under the supervision of one of the top producers in the world – Grammy winning Windham Hill Records founder Will Ackerman. The opening track on this album, which incidentally is also the first track on The Gathering, a recently released CD compilation of artists produced by Will Ackerman, is entitled “Glastenbury, VT.” This elegant piano solo takes its name and inspiration from a mysterious ghost town in the Green Mountains of Vermont, not far from where Masako currently resides. I was impressed with the way her left hand traced drifting clouds of chords, as her right hand rained down a delicate shower of notes. In fact, Ackerman himself commented: “Her timing is breathtaking and the dance between her left and right hands is unlike anything I've ever encountered.”

Continuing geographically with the Vermont theme is a track called Ottauquechee River that picks up accompanists as it flows on its way. This piece has the most ensemble interplay thus far and features more top-notch session musicians. Masko’s animated piano playing on this track, for me, conjured an image of white water foam dancing and splashing in the sunlight as it races downstream. In total contrast is another ensemble piece entitled The Lonely Otter, that while it provides continuity with the river motif, couldn’t be more different in its emotional affect. As the title implies, there is a wistful and elegiac ambiance to the piece that is accentuated by the plaintive strains of cello and bass. The contributions of the session musicians on this album, as on many of the Ackerman produced recordings I’ve heard, are often subtle yet impeccably tasteful and deftly integrated into the composition.

Given the wealth of accolades that Masako has received from the maestro Ackerman, there is little more than I can say than to agree wholeheartedly with his observations and sentiments. Masako is a gem reflecting diverse facets that sparkle with musical light.

Junko Nagae

Music for your heart...
Those who have experienced sorrow know how to be gentle.
A gentle person will overcome sorrow eventually to find happiness.
This music gently envelops your heart and flows with you.

REVIEWS NEW AGE

Uno de los grandes álbumes de piano de este año.
El piano puede ser rápido, técnicamente imposible, y otros en cambio pueden ser melódicos, pausados. Dentro de los pianos sutiles, hay algunos que marcan la diferencia, y entre ellos podemos encontrar el debut de la japonesa Masako. Producido por William Ackerman, el ingeniero de sonido Tom Eaton y la propia Masako, este primer trabajo mantiene una linealidad perfecta en técnica y melodía, una dulzura inimaginable, y lo que es mejor, un sentimiento en el tacto que conecta con el oyente. Para este primer trabajo, Masako cuenta con instrumentos de gran nivel, como son: el chelo de Eugene Friesen, la percusión de Jeff Haynes, el sintetizador de viento de Premik, el tambor hapi de Will Ackerman, el violín de Charlie Bisharat, la penetrante voz de Noah Wilding, y el bajo de Tony Levin.

Que George Winston es uno de los ídolos de Masako, queda patente con “Glastenbury, VT”, pieza para solo piano que mezcla los golpes de acordes de la mano izquierda, con una mano derecha respetuosa con el tempo, inesperada y embravecida con las notas. Característica que podíamos encontrar en el estilo de Winston.

Para una composición que incluye la palabra “Primavera” en su título, no podemos esperar una música reflexiva, más bien, amable y atractiva. “Spring Now” es una de las primeras piezas brillantes del álbum, donde Masako interpreta una música extensa, que se ve sorprendida, un minuto antes de su conclusión, por el violín de Eugene Friesen.

Aparece la suite “Secret Path to Point Reyes”, compuesta por dos partes. La primera de las piezas es algo más amable que su siguiente, uniendo el viento sintetizado de Premik con el piano de Masako. En esta primera parte, el protagonista es el sintetizador, siendo el piano el acompañamiento, no habiendo variaciones en exceso en su música. La segunda parte cobra vida, donde el piano de Masako esta vez en solitario, mantiene una lucha entre ambas manos, donde la diestra realiza una rapidísima unión de notas altas y la izquierda marca el ritmo.

Una de mis preferidas, de melodía juguetona, y donde el grácil tacto de Masako se hace patente es “Ottauquechee River”, una de las mejores piezas para piano que he escuchado. De un ritmo sorprendente y acompañada por la percusión de Jeff Haynes, la voz de Noah Wilding y el chelo de Friesen, la pianista interpreta una de las mejores composiciones de este álbum. Una pieza que debe ser muy entretenida de tocar!.

“Amazing Newt” es un solo piano que invita a la reflexión, a pasear y aislarnos en nuestros pensamientos. No busquen una melodía que les impresione, encontrarán una música que los calmen.

Continuando con la composición anterior, los primeros minutos de “A Tale of Lonely Otter”, son una apacible introducción para lo que nos espera. “A Tale of Lonely Otter” es otra de las grandes piezas de este álbum. En este tema, encontramos una música seductora y risueña, donde el piano de Masako se ve acompañado por el bajo, el chelo y la percusión.

Comienza la siguiente suite del CD, “Remembrance”. “Remembrance, Part I” es una de las mejores composiciones de este álbum, donde el piano se convierte en guionista de nuestras reflexiones con un ir y venir de amables de notas, dejando que un chelo le escolte hasta el final. Magnífica composición!!.

“Remembrance, Part II” es el júbilo tras la dubitativa composición anterior. En esta ocasión, la melodía se torna rítmica gracias a la percusión de Jeff Haynes y un violín extraordinario de Charlie Bisharat!. Otra maravilla de este debut!.

“Moon and Stream” es un solo de piano con un ligero toque de romanticismo, de ternura, donde predominan las notas altas. La melodía es un dulce waltz que va marcando con sus notas el brillo de cada estrella que nace en el cielo nocturno. Es relajante, soñadora.

En “Greening” predomina el color verde, la paz, donde sólo se percibe el susurro del viento y el olor a naturaleza en una tarde que termina. El piano de esta pieza es sencillamente bellísimo y acompaña perfectamente a todas estas sensaciones.

El cuerno inglés y el piano realizan una clausura sobresaliente para el CD. “Forgotten Moments” es un título directo para dejar el álbum cerrado, donde una melodía nace con pesadez entre las manos de Masako y el viento acompaña con cierto dolor.


Masako nos muestra un piano ligeramente aderezado con más instrumentos, pero sin perder el encanto del solo piano, en ningún momento eclipsan con sus melodías al piano y eso es de agradecer, dejando que suene en todo su esplendor, dejando que la melodía del piano llegue hasta nuestros oídos y nos acaricie con sus notas. Masako ha dado vida a un debut difícil de superar, tanto en ejecución como en composición, es uno de los grandes álbumes de piano de este año.

reviewsnewage.com
09/06/13