I knew since mid-May that Joe Hisaishi was to give a charity concert in Paris for the victims of the tsunami in Japan. But being rather busy lately, I forgot about it until the preceding day. The 23rd of June, day of the concert, it had been sold out for some time. Luckily, I got a last minute ticket through an ad on the net. I collected it minutes before the concert but as installing the audience took some time, I reached my seat just with the first notes of “Nausicaä”. For the audience, mainly fans of Joe Hisaishi and for me, a magic dream was beginning.
The mood in this concert was quite different from one in classical music : a different audience and amplified orchestra and choir. But the amplification was well balanced and in one of the last work, when the strings lost their microphone, their re-amplification was not violently felt. The solo soprano, Hélène Bernardy, was also fully in the feeling of the music as she lightened her normally more wagnerian vocal register, even though one is used to lighter voices in Joe Hisaishi’s recordings.
Through the program, you could listen to Joe Hisaishi’s best known pieces composed mainly for two Japanese movie masters : Hayao Miyazaki and Takeshi Kitano. Apart from Kitano, the audience could watch film excerpts on a giant screen with the music played live. Even a fan as myself discovered some compositions of Joe Hisaishi for Jiang Wen‘s “Let’s the bullets fly” and “The sun also rises” or his last film music for “Akunin”. Watching the excerpts, I wanted to see these asian westerns of Jiang Wen.
Joe Hisaishi, the Star Pop orchestra and the choir led to us through the oniric landscapes of the valley of wind with Nausicaä. The strings had much fun playing the pizzicatti of “Summer”. As for me, I got goosebumps when I heard the first hollow beat on the taiko for “Mononoke Hime” or the first notes of “One summer’s day” from “Spirited away” played by Joe Hisaishi on the piano. I really loved the whole program with its different moods.
The orchestra accompanied Hélène Bernardy on the theme song of “Akunin” named “Your story” that reminded me of Gilbert Bécaud’s “Et maintenant”. The lyrics gave a sad and hopeful color to the pictures of the people living in the area devastated by the tsunami. Of course, the ultimate piece in the evening was the last encore, “Tonari no Totoro“, that the audience cheered enthusiastically.
On the charity concert website, Joe Hisaishi expresses his wish to devote the collected funds to give young Japanese from North East Japan music instruments and the ability to play again. I hope to have contributed in a small part to this musical goal.Joe Hisaishi (conductor) – Star Pop orchestra – Hélène Bernardy (soprano) – choeurs COGE, TF Gospel, CHAM de Saint Maur Nausicaä – Princess Mononoke – The General, mvt. 1 and 5 – Raging men – Hana-bi – Kids return, Let’s the bullet fly and The sun also rises Merry-go-round – Departures – One Summer’s day – Summer – Akunin – Gake no ue no Ponyo
Encores : Princess Mononoke, Ashitaka and San – Tonari no totoro