The world seems to be moving closer and closer together -- the world of contemporary classical music, at least. Last night at the Kennedy Center's new Terrace Theater, Music From Japan, an ensemble devoted to introducing Japanese music to this country, proved that, for the moment, East and West have met, in dissonance, ab straction and experimentation -- for better and for worse.
Matsumura's "Courtyard of Apsaras" featured dense textures of sound that were almost impressionistic in feel, while Sueyoshi's "Okaru -- Kanpei" employed muted percussion and occasional jazz devices to the poetry of Kitahara. Kondo's "Standing" was the most impressive piece, with the piano, flute and vibraphone twirling madly in a pointillistic fantasy that sounded like a music box gone berserk.
The rest of the program, Noda's "Reflection," Fukushima's "Shun-San" and Fukushi's "Silica" were dull and lifeless pieces that would fit snugly into the mainstream of Western Abstract Academia. For all their dissonance and seriousness, they were more like technical exercises that lacked soul and feeling.
The musicians were all technically proficient (vibraphonist Michael Levenson was particularly impressive), and their commitment to the music brought a sense of life to even the most ponderous of the compositions.