Lumières - Kaori Muraji
Guitarist Kaori Muraji, 28 this year, has been a huge star in her native Japan for more than a decade. Her fame is built upon the distinction of becoming (in 1992) the youngest winner of both the Leo Brouwer and Tokyo International Guitar Competitions. However, native celebrity seems to have been relatively slow to translate into major international acclaim. This collection follows Muraji’s earlier “Transformations” CD (featuring transcriptions of a variety of popular songs), and in presenting it Decca make no secret of her physical appeal. Portraits feature on front and back of the rear insert, on both sides of front and back booklet covers, and inside, too – seven in all.
As for the music, it strikes a sensible balance between familiar and less so, older and more modern. Yoshimatsu’s Water Color Scalor especially displays Muraji’s remarkable control of the lightest shades of the palette, and the Satie Gnossienne is captivating. If much is agreeably on the quiet, reflective side, I’m less sure about Muraji’s range of expression. The Debussy and Ravel items have a tendency to sound somewhat four-square, and I can envisage greater dynamism in a livelier item, such as Roland Dyens’s Saudade No 3. There and in the Yoshimatsu, as well as in the attractive Kleynjans Barcarolles and the Bréville Fantaisie, the seasoned collector of guitar recordings at least has welcome variety of repertory. As for the more general listener, the CD’s attractions for late-night relaxed listening are undeniable.