When I first heard Yazawa, I fell in love with her beautiful sound. Even when the piece is aggressive contemporary music, she doesn’t bang the keys. Her touches are well controlled and produce sparkling notes that travel gracefully. And there is her fascinating time feel, which is not easy for a Japanese whose culture does not include beat-oriented dance music. I am no contemporary music expert but her interesting program made me look up the original works. I then realized she makes modifications to the originals to express her own interpretations - subtle, but powerful modifications. She seems to be keep advancing her creativities like Miles and Prince taught us.
It seems most of the critics labeled her as an electronic musician but I do not agree with such a label for her. It is clear to me that her implementation of synths is to reach an end result she is working toward instead of using the synths as the main focus. You can easily understand her aim from pieces that involves prepared piano instead of electronics. For example, disk 1 track 2 by Saariaho, and disk 2 track 2 and 3 by Lang display a fascinating usage of synths, while disk 1 track 4 by Cage is done by carefully prepared piano to produce an amazing gamelan sound. On the other hand, disk 1 track 3 by Zorn and track 5 by Messiaen displays her beautiful acoustic piano sound as well as her fascinating time feel.
The piece by Yarnell on disk 2 track 4 is very interesting. My guess is this is a duo piece with acoustic piano and a computer-sequenced piano sample. The end result is very mysterious in a positive way. I was not sure if it’s a tuning or intentional latency by microphone positions, but I was very excited to experience this new texture that I have never heard before. There is one thing I wasn’t too crazy about in this album. I was unable to see the creativity and necessity of synths in disk 1 track 1 by Hiraishi. Only on this piece, the synths sounded as though they were a substitution of real instruments, and the time feel was very metronome like. However, this can be the character of Japanese pop music that Yazawa intentionally opened this program with, and might be related to how she closed this program with Gismonti.