Ftarri / Meenna

Wakana Ikeda / Yoko Ikeda / Aya Naito / Masahiko Okura / Taku Sugimoto

Suidobashi Chamber Ensemble

Limited edition of 500
Out on October 30, 2016
Purchase price in Japan: 1,500 yen (tax not included)
(For purchase outside of Japan, prices vary.)

  1. Jürg Frey - Exact Dimension without Insistence (20:00)
    flute, clarinet

  2. Michael Pisaro - Flux [Harmony Series No. 8A] (3:05)
    viola, guitar

  3. Michael Pisaro - Pas [Harmony Series No. 8C] (3:34)
    viola, bassoon

  4. Antoine Beuger - Vegetable Rustling (6:02)
    flute, bassoon, guitar, viola

  5. Michael Pisaro - Festhalten / Loslassen (32:56)
    flute, bass clarinet, bassoon, guitar, viola

    mp3 excerpt: track 1
    mp3 excerpt: track 2
    mp3 excerpt: track 3
    mp3 excerpt: track 4
    mp3 excerpt: track 5

Wakana Ikeda: flute (1, 4, 5)
Yoko Ikeda: viola (2-5)
Masahiko Okura: clarinet (1), bass clarinet (5)
Taku Sugimoto: guitar (2, 4, 5)
Aya Naito: bassoon (3-5)

Recorded by Taku Sugimoto at Ftarri, Tokyo, May 7 (1), July 9 (5), and July 20 (2-4), 2016
Mastered by Taku Unami
Produced by Wakana Ikeda
Artwork and design by Cathy Fishman

Suidobashi Chamber Ensemble (SCE), formed in spring 2016 on the initiative of flute player Wakana Ikeda, is a chamber group which periodically performs contemporary/experimental music concerts. The five members are Wakana Ikeda, Yoko Ikeda (viola), Aya Naito (bassoon), Masahiko Okura (clarinet, bass clarinet), and Taku Sugimoto (guitar). In concerts held at Ftarri, Tokyo, in May and July 2016, SCE performed works by the composers of the Wandelweiser group. The five tracks on this album include performances from those two concerts, plus pieces recorded at Ftarri with no audience in attendance. Consisting of works composed by Jurg Frey, Michael Pisaro and Antoine Beuger, this album is a Wandelweiser group collection.

Liner Notes 1

Sounds were heard only occasionally, and those sounds were in simple scales. An abundance of space was put before us, and time expanded and contracted around the musicians and us, the listeners. I felt that my own time axis had shifted, and the sounds that emerged when everything was indistinct drove small stakes into my consciousness. This was repeated again and again. Something lay over the simple structure, and as I was tracing what that was, the piece ended.

The concert took place at Ftarri in Suidobashi. It was Taku Sugimoto's performance on guitar of a piece composed by Antoine Beuger. After the concert I said that I'd like to make a chamber group which periodically performs what is sometimes called contemporary/experimental music, and this led to my forming the Suidobashi Chamber Ensemble (hereafter SCE), in which I enlisted Sugimoto-san's help.

Although SCE was not planned as an ensemble limited to a specially selected scene—limited to performing the works of Wandelweiser, for instance—for the first and second concerts I wanted to perform something from Wandelweiser, so I selected several of their works. (When I sent an e-mail about scores to the founder, Antoine Beuger, I was really moved by his kind reply. I also asked Jürg Frey and Michael Pisaro various questions and received advice from them. Everyone was wonderful.) This CD contains a recording of those first and second concerts, plus several selected pieces recorded later. Children's voices could be heard in one piece, and I had those parts edited out.

As I touched upon before, Wandelweiser's compositions have simple rules and many are quiet works. For example, one composition contains only three sounds, and another uses only one sound that is repeated. In some pieces, the score is accompanied by a short poem. Though the instructions to musicians are very simple, the results that we hear and experience are evocative, unique and beautiful. When we experience their music, we sense that what is interesting about it is something that can't be grasped with just an understanding of structure—something that lies in experiencing the work from another point of view. With these compositions, understanding the structure and experiencing the work are not the same thing.

Once I read something fascinating. When we perceive something, we somehow tie together things that we already know from the various events occurring around us, and derive meaning from these connections. The connections between "this" and "that" are not precise things like numerical formulas; almost all are assigned meaning in a vague way—"somehow this seems like that." But they become large filters which cover over phenomena.

So—if understanding structure is equivalent to making vague connections among things and detecting a certain system within the meanings thus perceived, what happens in the midst of those perceived meanings to things that are left out of that system, or parts of things that never connected with their counterparts within this process and continue to float about? It seems to me that even the parts of things that are not connected to their counterparts, and don't refer to past experience, remain part of our personal experience. I think the same is true even if we know the rules that the composer set down in the score. And I think it is here that something interesting may be lying dormant. In the experience of Wandelweiser's compositions in particular, this is where I want to place the focus. In the space (time) that emerges from the works, what happens and what sorts of feelings do people (does each individual) have as a result? I have the sense that the beauty of a piece is hidden in the vague relationships that occur, and the things that spill out of those relationships, when we trace something that lies over structure. I want to know that beauty and continue to explore it.

Lastly, I want to express my gratitude to the supportive group members Okura-san, Yoko-san, Aya-chan and Sugimoto-san; to Suzuki-san, the owner of Ftarri, who suggested this CD release, and Suzuki-san's wife, who did the design and translation; to Unami-san, who did the mixing and mastering; and most of all, to Beuger-san, Frey-san and Pisaro-san, who gave me an opportunity to perform their elegant works. For SCE's next concert, we're planning a performance at Ftarri in November to celebrate the release of this CD. I'm really looking forward to it.

Wakana Ikeda (August 12, 2016)
Translation by Cathy Fishman

Liner Notes 2

What has been proposed by the composers of the Wandelweiser group is not only how one can compose, play or listen to music, but also how one can live with music. It seems utterly impossible, at least for me, to do nothing but play or compose or listen to music. I mean, even if you are an eager listener of a certain type of music, it must be impossible to listen to that music all day. Just as Disneyland is a place to visit for fun, not a place to live in--though there certainly are a few maniacs who wish to live there--no one can engage in only one particular world. To live with music is not like that.

When you are at home, usually nothing special happens, so you feel comfortable. When listening to the music of Wandelweiser in concert, you may notice that there are lots of spaces between musical tones and this kind of musical emptiness, the silence, is the same kind in terms of sound as what you can hear at home. It is often said that to concentrate on listening to music which contains long silences makes the listener tired. But it is not always necessary to concentrate. You are at home. Why not feel comfortable?

However, you may have to be an active listener somehow if you really want to know the essence of this kind of music, because these musical works, those which the composers offer through their compositions, are usually yet to be completed. What you happen to discover by means of listening to the compositions functions as a very important role. The same can be said of the interpreters and also the composers themselves. Yet you may suddenly see something about a composition that you listened to before while walking through a park (or even listening to your favorite tune). One can be committed to music which is timeless in some way.

I have played many compositions by the composers of the Wandelweiser group, sometimes alone in concert or at home, sometimes as a member of a group with or without the composer. Something unforgettable was the time when I and Manfred Werder, a member of the Wandelweiser group, played one of his compositions when I was in Seoul for some workshops with him. One morning Manfred asked me to have a walk together. Though I was a little bit hung-over, I decided to go with him. It was fun walking along a river and talking with him. But this was actually his composition, as I was to find out later when I saw his website. Of course, I had no intention of playing any music at that time, since he didn't say anything about that. Half a year later, Manfred and I were in the woods in Zurich. I didn't ask him if we were playing his composition (though I thought it was certain), because it seemed no longer necessarily important for me to know if what we were doing was a composition. What is important is to know the possibilities of how to realize or recognize music in daily life. Manfred has actually proposed his particular approach to this matter.

All the compositions on this CD include many kinds of spaces which you can hear, see, sense, and think of. The things which music is composed of or realized with are always around you.

Taku Sugimoto

Last updated: October 11, 2016

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