Moroi: Symphony No. 3, etc./Yuasa

Review by: Victor Carr Jr

Artistic Quality: 9

Sound Quality: 9

Japanese composer Saburo Moroi’s (1903-1977) European training is clearly evident in the Sinfonietta “For Children”, which strongly resembles 19th century French music (Bizet and Saint-Saëns come mostly to mind), with its tuneful melodies, light textures, breezy flow, and lush orchestral palette. Of the three movements, only the mournful Lento finale sounds particularly “Japanese” with its pentatonic themes and slow, ceremonial gait.

Moroi more subtly incorporates Eastern music elements in his Two Symphonic Movements. The first, a powerfully effective sonata-allegro, opens with a sternly stalking unison theme followed by a pentatonic second subject. The second movement’s driving pace might suggest the rapid motion of some Japanese traditional music–if you happened to be looking for such a thing. But otherwise it calls to mind the music of César Franck, as does Symphony No. 3’s smoldering first-movement introduction. However, the following tempestuous allegro sounds strikingly like one of Miaskovsky’s early symphonies, while Moroi’s long-breathed finale would appear to have taken the Adagio of Bruckner’s Ninth as a model.

But none of these suggested similarities (you may come up with your own, different ones) means that Moroi’s music is predictable or deliberately derivative. Maybe it’s a bit old-fashioned for the mid-20th century, and it doesn’t really sound like what you would expect from a “Japanese Classic” (as Naxos labels it). Never mind: Moroi writes stimulating and often very beautiful music, which Takuo Yuasa brings off quite convincingly in these engaging performances with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland. And Naxos’ solid and spacious recording completes this uniformly impressive production.

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Recording Details:

Reference Recording: None

SABURO MOROI - Symphony No. 3; Sinfonietta; Two Symphonic Movements

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