CD Review – Kanahi Yamashita plays the Music of Carlo Domeniconi

Carlo Domeniconi – Selected Works VIII Featuring Kanahi Yamashita was released in April of 2021 as the eighth volume of composer Carlo Domeniconi’s music. The CD features the young guitar prodigy Kanahi Yamashita playing four works by Domeniconi – Toccata in Blue, Pealrs of the Orient, Haiku, and Sonata V. Both of the later titles were written for Kanahi.

Carlo Domeniconi’s music through the hands of Kanahi Yamashita is a revelation. Like a magician casting a spell, Kanahi’s interpretations flow effortlessly as if simply conjured through her guitar. The selection of repertoire offers the listener a bit of a snapshot of Carlo Domeniconi’s development as a composer as the compositions span more than 20 years. The sophistication of Domeniconi’s harmonic language and his cultural influences seem to get woven into his musical ideas in a more seamless way as one moves into the later works. As with more familiar compositions from Domeniconi like Koyumbaba and his Anatolian Variations, much of the beauty and magic of his music exists djinnlike between times and cultures.

Kanahi Yamashita, photo: Hiromi Hoshiko

The Toccata in Blue was a familar and groovy tune that I’ve enjoyed listening to in concerts over the years. For its light heartedness, it displays Carlo Domeniconi’s ease with music genres as he blends in his unique voice on the guitar with the blues. The other three compositions were new to me. Pearls of the Orient is comprised of twelve movements or perhaps sound pictures with fanciful titles like The sultan, White Pearls, The Genie, and the Astrologer. Kanahi, with her endless palette of colors, conjures these pictures with both flair and virtuosity. Haiku, dedicated to Kanahi, evokes Japan through the use of pentatonic forms, allusions to folk music, and perhaps even sounds reminiscent in their resonance of Japanese traditional instruments like the koto.

Of all the pieces the one that I enjoyed the most was the Sonata V, also written for Kanahi. In four movements, the piece goes from Mosso to Adagio to Scherzo and finally into an Andante animato – Ritmico. Perhaps the most sophisticated display of Kanahi’s superior musical sensibility and Domeniconi’s composition skill manifest itself in this performance. Though abstract, modal musical motifs recur in Domeniconi’s Sonata as a rich blend of styles and genres. The Sonata evokes multi-cultural layers that are both complex, harmonious, and rhythmic. The techniques demanded of the performer, which are numerous and creative, are an easy match for Kanahi’s wonderful fluency on the guitar. And, as with the rest of the compositions in this recording, Kanahi navigates the Sonata with the elegance and fluidity of a master.

This CD is wonderful. You can order by contacting Kanahi Yamashita directly through her website.

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