On WITHIN MY SOUL, New York-based composer Akemi Naito’s debut release on Ravello Records, the composer’s intent was to create a collection of musical works inspired by words. The poetry and prose that inspired the album’s three pieces were crafted by a trio of writers who transcend the boundaries of time and place: 19th-century British poet and novelist Emily Brontë; 20th-century Japanese novelist Kobo Abe; and Japanese monk-poet Saigyo (1118 – 1190).
The album’s first selection, Emily Brontë: Through Life and Death, A Chainless Soul, is a poetic mono-opera in one act, based on selected poems of Emily Brontë and scored for mezzo-soprano and piano. Opera Wire praised the performance, describing it as “a wonderful example of the beauty that can be found when words mingle with music, each giving the other new life and meaning.”
The Woman in the Dunes for Solo Percussionist was inspired by Japanese writer Kobo Abe’s novel, The Woman in the Dunes. Performed by percussionist Gregory Beyer, the music echoes Abe’s text, using metallic instruments centered on chromatic gongs to express the woman’s emotions and drum instruments to express the turmoil of the male character in the novel.
Five Waka poems by Saigyo was composed as part of famed marimbist Makoto Nakura’s Forest Trilogy project. It is based on the writings of the ancient monk-poet Saigyo, who expressed his free spirit in poems, inspired by nature, that even today continue to stimulate the imagination. On WITHIN MY SOUL, the work is performed by William Moersch on marimba and the University of Illinois Chamber Singers directed by Andrew Megill.
WITHIN MY SOUL is her third recording. Each composition, inspired by the words of Brontë, Abe, and Saigyo and performed by a stellar array of musicians, offers strong proof of the way great art, even as it is transformed by modern influences, endures over time.