My introduction to the delights of Japanese song happened during my first visit to Japan in 1991. I learnt Karatachi no hana (Quince flower) by Kohsaku Yamada as an encore piece, after I was invited to give a couple of small concerts in Kyushu and Tokyo. The delighted reaction that I got from the audience, because I had gone to the trouble of learning one of their best-known songs in their language, was heart-warming. As such it led me to undertake further exploration of this repertoire, which comprises songs set in a Western-style manner using their most famous poems. This meant I discovered the joys of kakyoku – their version of art song and of dou-you – a kind of traditional song. I know that the wonderful orchestration created for these songs, which were originally written with piano accompaniment, lifts them to a whole new level and as such, I hope that they will appeal to a much wider audience.
Charlotte de Rothschild