[Streaming+ quality of MUSIC/SLASH] Ryuichi Sakamoto: Playing the Piano 2022
On December 11, 2022, Ryuichi Sakamoto’s solo piano concert will be streamed to the world.
Two years ago, with a difference of one day—in other words, on December 12, 2020— Sakamoto played a solo piano concert when the world was in search of light within the dark tunnel of the coronavirus pandemic. He played from a studio in Tokyo with no audience present. The performance was live-streamed but was not archived for future release.
This means that on December 11, Sakamoto will be returning for the first time in two years to show us “Sakamoto in performance.”
What we will watch and listen to on this day is carefully recorded footage of Sakamoto performing a few pieces of music each day over the course of a week. It will be thoughtfully edited into a solo piano concert to be streamed on December 11.
Sakamoto says, “I don’t have the energy to do live concerts… This might be the last time that you will see me perform in this manner.” Perhaps he has accepted and sat with the reality that he is currently unable to do things that he once used to. Planting himself firmly on the ground of this new reality necessitated by his physical condition, Sakamoto seems to have found a new drive and positivity.
In fact, this concert will better showcase his new musical horizons than ever before for the following reasons:
Firstly, they used the legendary 509 Studio in NHK. Sakamoto does not hesitate in calling this studio located inside NHK Broadcasting Center in Shibuya, Tokyo, “The best in Japan.” Plenty of time was given to record his performance in this space.
Additionally, key crew members were brought in from New York on this occasion as part of the film production team. They filmed Sakamoto’s performance with the intention of not only streaming the footage but to put together a concert film to be released in theaters in the future.
Neither of these circumstances would have become a reality if Sakamoto happened to have the energy to do a live concert.
The streamed version will be about 60 minutes of his performance at the 509 Studio.
Text by Masafumi Suzuki
Ryuichi Sakamoto has lived many musical lives in his nearly 70 years.
As a keyboardist and songwriter in Haruomi Hosono’s Yellow Magic Orchestra, he helped set the stage for synthpop. His solo experiments in fusing global genres and close studies of classical impressionism led to him scoring over 30 films in as many years, including Nagisa Oshima’s Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence, Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Last Emperor and The Sheltering Sky, and Alejandro González Iñárritu’s The Revenant. In the past 20 years alone, he’s written a multimedia opera, turned a glass building into an instrument, and travelled to the Arctic to record the sound of melting snow. That exploratory spirit runs through Sakamoto’s 2017 album, async, which paints an audio portrait of the passing of time informed by his recovery from throat cancer. “Music, work, and life all have a beginning and an ending,” said Sakamoto in early 2019. “What I want to make now is music freed from the constraints of time.”
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