Sonic landscapes of the New Age by a Japanese pianist

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Sonic landscapes of the New Age by a Japanese pianist

Over the last five years, Yuhki Kuramoto has been enchanting the peninsula with the piano. An Oi music magazine critic once compared him to George Winston, whose understated compositions create a sonic landscape. When Mr. Kuramoto, 52, plays, he also creates creates lush, but simple worlds that somehow recall classic Oriental paintings. The tone is warm, and the music lyrical.
The Japanese pianist is returning to Korea for performances throughout Korea beginning at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts on Sunday and at the Seoul Arts Center on Monday, before departing for Daejeon, Daegu and Suwon.
Tickets are almost all sold out, which isn’t surprising considering his popularity here. From Mr. Kuramoto’s first concert in Korea, in 1999 at Seoul Arts Center, to his concerts during the Asian Games last fall, ticket sales have always been brisk.
Mr. Winston may have brought New Age music to international public consciousness with the 1982 release of “December,” but here in Korea, Mr. Kuramoto’s albums often outsell Mr. Winston’s. Mr. Kuramoto consistently places in the top-10 selling foreign albums each year.
His “Concertino,” released in Korea in April, is also expected to do well. On his latest album, he is backed by string instruments ― violin, viola, cello and contrabass ― plus flute, oboe, harp and horns.
For the tour of Korea, Mr. Kuramoto is again partnering with the conductor Park Young-min. Mr. Park has conducted the pianist’s previous seven performances in Korea. For the tour, Mr. Park will be working with a new orchestra, the Seoul Classical Players. The orchestra may be young, but many of the Seoul Classical Players have also played at Mr. Kuramoto’s previous concerts.
Mr. Kuramoto began studying the piano at the age of 7, playing classics like Rachmaninov and Grieg. He also earned his master’s degree in applied physics from Tokyo Engineering University. But in the end, he chose music, moving into other genres, such as jazz, chansons and popular Japanese music. The release of his debut album, “Lake Misty Blues,” in 1986 caused a sensation in Asia, as critics called him the new Richard Clayderman and the Oriental George Winston.

by Joe Yong-hee

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