Tag Archives: Tomita

New Tomita Album Features Live Symphony Of Final Work, Dr. Coppelius

Isao Tomita has been gone from us since May of 2016. I’m actually surprised that we’ve not seen any remasters or expansions by RCA. A BOX even. I think that his works contributed heavily to the beautiful ’70s, before sound and style upended (not unappealingly, mind you). But we didn’t get a representative set of refreshed Tomita music. But, we are getting something, Tomita fans.

On March 22, via Nippon Columbia, the first Tomita set since his death is being released. The new album is being called Dr. Coppelius, and is a live presentation of his composed symphony. It is the premiere of the symphony, played live at the 12th Bunkamura Orchard Hall by the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra. This symphony played live on November 11/12 in 2016. The symphony was conducted by Kazumasa Watanabe, with electronic parts performed by Aiko Hikari.

Dr Coppelius, of course, while an original work, is not a studio work. I have hope that it will be eventually done, and released as a studio work attributed to Tomita, for the enjoyment of his fans. You can see more here.

Dr Coppelius – Tomita

01 – The 0th movement Move the living body Ascending Life Form
02 – 3rd movement Into the universe Into The Outer Space Based on Villa-Lobos’ No. 7 “Brazilian Bach”
03 – 4th movement Landing on The Asteroid 25143 Itokawa at Planet Itokawa Based on Leo · dolbe composition “Coppelia” waltz
04 – The 5th movement Mourning Song Song of Grief Based on Villa-Lobos’ No. 4 “Brazilian Bach”
05 – End of the 6th movement End of The Time Richard Wagner’s composition “Tristan and Isolde” based on the death of love
06 – 7 th movement, Sunrise Rise of The Planet 9


In Memoriam: Isao Tomita (Tomita)

TomitaAs it becomes more readily apparent that 2016 knows little compassion, we now learn that ambient pioneer, Isao Tomita has passed at the age of 83.

While I was already leaning into the classical and ambient arenas with the emerging progressive and ambient bands of the late ’60s (YES, Nektar, Gong, Tangerine Dream, and others too numerous to mention), it was Tomita that pushed me into the realm of classical music full force. His first immediately accessible album, Snowflakes Are Dancing reimagined the beauty of the Debussy compositions that include works from Children’s Corner (with “Golliwogg’s Cakewalk”, “The Snow Is Dancing”), Préludes (with “The Girl With The Flaxen Hair”), and other classics works like “Claire de Lune””Footprints In The Snow”, and “Arabesque”. After first hearing the hypnotic and haunting “Snowflakes Are Dancing” on a popular Chicago FM Station back when I was in my formative years, not only was I entranced with the Tomita album, I also had to go back to the source material. Therefore, my plunge into the Classical world, a place I have not left since.

For nearly every Tomita release thereafter, (Pictures At An Exhibition (Mussorgsky) – 1975, Firebird (Stravinsky) – 1976, Planets (Holst) – 1976, The Bermuda Triangle – 1978, Kosmos – 1978, Bolero (Ravel) – 1980, Grand Canyon Suite (Grofé) – 1982, et al.), I was enthralled to not only hear his electronic craftwork of a revered work, but to also learn of another composer – new source material! I was learning and excited about that. Tomita made that happen!

His electronic versions were not cheap reproductions. They were well thought out pieces that complemented the originals in nearly every way. You could easily hear his reverence in every chosen note. He was a consummate perfectionist that insisted on treating his source material with respect. In fact, he revisited The Planets Suite years later with updated insertions and replacements using the latest technology. It was not designed to replace his own original. It was designed to bring a different listen to the fans. (You can acquire an SACD of this work, maybe even a CD. The new Planets work is called The Ultimate Edition, released in 2003, and is often referred to as The Planets 2003. You can hear a rework of “Mars, The Bringer of War” here as well as a new track.)

He changed up “Star Wars”, “Close Encounter Of The Third Kind”, and other contemporary works of the time.

So, it’s easy to see why his passing is as noteworthy an event as the passing of Prince, Bowie, and the others of 2016 (or those that went before).

Tomita has recently released albums (Planet Zero – 2011, Symphony Ihatov – 2013, Space Fantasy – 2015), along with a finished one in the wings to be released (Dr Coppelius).

Rest In Peace, you master of sound!

Isao Tomita RIP

“Art is Art when it is appreciated.”



New 5CD Kronos Quartet Box Celebrating Terry Riley Set for June

Kronos One EarthFor over forty years, The Kronos Quartet from Washington/San Francisco has produced an amazing array of music. The quartet (David Harrington – violin, John Sherba – violin, Hank Dutt – viola, Sunny Lang – cello. Sunny Yang is the band’s fourth replacement at cello. Kronos began with Joan Jeanrenaud, who was with them from their inception in 1973 until 1999.) has become a popular collective with well over 850 commissioned works and more than three times that in live performances. From a recorded standpoint, the Kronos Quartet have released more than sixty albums.

On June 16, Nonesuch Records (their longtime label) will release a 5CD set by Kronos Quartet called One Earth, One People, One Love – Kronos Plays Terry Riley. The music found on this set feature compositions by American composer, Terry Riley.  Terry Riley is a California-based minimalist of Western classical music. This innovative composer has a wide collection of recorded works spanning from 1963. To give you the scope of influence that Terry Riley has, it is said that the minimalist electronic organ work in “Baba O’Riley” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again” are Townshend’s inspired work drawn from Riley’s “A Rainbow In Curved Air”. (Check it out; it’s there!)

Of the four titles included in this set, three are previously released Nonesuch issues (the Grammy-nominated Salome Dances for Peace – 1989, 2CD; Requiem For Adam – 2001, The Cusp Of Magic – 2008). The other album, Sunrise Of The Planetary Dream Collector: Music of Terry Riley is a brand new offering by Kronos recorded to celebrate the 80th birthday of Terry Riley.

For Kronos Quartet fans not wanting the entire box, or who may already be in possession of the previously released albums, Nonesuch will be making the new title, Sunrise Of the Planetary Dream Collector: Music Of Terry Riley, available separate of the box. It will share the Box release date of June 16.

Kronos Quartet Dream

I have been a fan of Kronos Quartet since their Steve Reich collaboration, Different Trains/Electric Counterpoint. As an admission, it was Tangerine Dream who opened the many doors I willingly walked through after them to become aware of artists like the Classical masters (Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Grofé, Debussy, Holst, etc), the developing classicists like Philip Glass, Steve Reich, Vangelis, etc. The list goes on and on, so thank-you, Tangerine Dream!)

If you’re an adventurous music fan, I can highly recommend the ambient classical gems like Isao Tomita (who no longer records), Philip Glass, and others like Terry Riley, whom this entire new set is based upon. I recognize that Kronos Quartet, or even Terry Riley won’t be for everyone. But if you’re that kind of fan, I hope this news brings you joy!