This album is made up of eleven pieces chosen by five composer/pianists with
a great love for the piano, all working on one theme. The theme is as the title,
the "Ancient City".
When we say the Ancient City, we think of Kyoto. For a thousand years until the
capital was moved to Tokyo, it served as the center of the Japanese culture as its
imperial capital. As you can see from the fact that 20% of the national treasures
and 15% of the important cultural assets are concentrated in Kyoto, it has been
the city of creativity and culture since the Heian Era. As for the musical aspect
of the culture, imperial music was developed based on the pentatonic scales
that was quite probably imported from China, then re-arranged into Japanese style.
This was to become the Japanese scale.
There is a variety of Japanese scales but the representative one is the scale
that is called the pentatonic and it consists of the five notes, "do re mi so ra".
This scale is often found in the traditional folk songs and children's songs, as
well as in pops. An example is the "Sukiyaki song" that a great many artists
have in their repertories. This contains a melody that is beautifully representative
of the pentatonic scale. The reasons why it became a great hit in Japan and number
one on the American Billboard must be that the sounds of the pentatonic scale are
nostalgic to the Japanese and exotic to the Americans.
But we are straying from the main topic, so let us get back. The work in this
album is by five now living Japanese composer-pianists who visualized and
sketched the images of the thousand year old capital Kyoto, using the pentatonic
scale and with the instrument representative of the West with about 300 years
of history, the piano. What drama is the instrument to express? It is Kyoto
showing a different face in each of the four seasons. We hope you will enjoy
this album as you stroll down the Sujaku Ouji (Main Street) of the ancient capital with us.