Monday evening (December 13, 2010) I attended a solo recital titled, “Touch-ing” at the Showa Academy Recital Hall. It was a performance by Hideki Ikegami, a terrific marimbist and percussionist with piano accompaniment by Kanna Shibata. Hideki is about 30-years-old and was a student of Atsushi Sugahara, who was also in the audience. (Sugahara studied with the distinguished xylophonist, Yoichi Hiraoka, when he was young, and he also performed with Yasunori Yamaguchi and Sumire Yoshihara on Takemitsu’s “Music Today” concerts with NEXUS at the Shibuya Seibu in 1976.)
The programme was unlike anything I’ve heard in a very long time. There were none of the contemporary solo marimba pieces that are currently being performed in the percussion/marimba world. The body of the programme consisted of music from the classical repertoire that was masterfully transcribed for the marimba.
“G-Major Sonata” by C. Debussy
“Lover’s Lane” by F. Poulanc
“Etude in Habanera Style” by M. Ravel
“Ritual Fire Dance” by M. deFalla
“Gypsy Music” by J. Duromoro
“Gitanne I & II” by F. Monbow
“Improvisation” (based on the song, “Smile” by C. Chaplin)
“Road Runner” by J. Zone
“Matre’s Dance” by J. Psathas
encore: “When You Wish Upon A Star” (unaccompanied)
Every piece was played with beautiful phrasing, sound, color, and style – mostly with 2-mallets but also with some very chopsy 4-mallet playing too. (The easy phrasing reminded me vaguely of Sojourne’s playing.) Ikegami’s rolls were probably the most even and fluid I’ve ever heard, especially when playing double-stops. The perfect balance and evenness of his 2-octave double-stops in the high register were amazingly colorful to hear. Also impressive was his ability to produce a full toned sound from the marimba bars over the entire range of his 5-octave marimba using only a single pair of mallets. I found every note he played to be rendered with intention, ease, and finesse. His stage presence was one of confidence and commitment to the music without the least hint of self-absorption.
The nature of the repertoire and his totally engaging musicianship probably helped to explain the rather large paying audience. The accompanist was fantastic too, especially in “Matre’s Dance.” the one contemporary piece for bongos and 3 toms with piano accompaniment. The toms were played with thin timbale sticks, which produced great full-toned sounds, and fluid phrasing, all in tight rhythmic-unison with the piano accompaniment. I could go on and on about this completely satisfying recital; I was totally impressed.