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November 06, 1989 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 1989-11-06

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The Michigan Daily - Monday, November 6, 1989 - Page 9




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Kazuhito Yamashita debuts a symphonic guitar

'M Y basic wish is to be a pi-
oneer," explained Japan's Kazuhito
Yamashita (via interpreter) in Octo-
b~r 1988's Ovation magazine. "I'm
airing for a new age for the guitar."
And if,. this young classical
aitist's intentions - for a field
whose possibilities are still rapidly
developing after only decades in the
world's concert halls - are indeed
*grand, then the way in which this
2D-year-old virtuoso backs up his
words is unmatched. On his latest
A merican release for RCA Red Seal,
Yamashita turns his instrument into
aetonal orchestra, performing no less
than his own transcription of Dvo-
rik's "New World" Symphony No. 9
f&r solo guitar - not only credibly,
bit with a wealth of musical vision
tlat is immediately convincing.
1If you'll pardon the cliche', Ya-
niashita's interpretation - intro-
duced to a Vienna audience nearly
twvo years ago - is something you
simply must hear to believe. Apply-
irig astonishing technique, the rising
sltar intersperses light touches such
a. two-fingered harmonic figures and
stunted notes among blazing strums
aid simultaneous melodic counter-
*p ints. He creates a version which
-r because the guitar is incapable of
otchestral bombast - actually
e;okes a depth of gentle beauty be-
yond the symphony's conventional
Appropriately, the innovative
a(tist's first solo tour in the "New
W, orld" - which comes to Rackham
Auditorium tonight - features the
Dvorak piece, revolutionary in its
Sotn day for its introduction of Wild
West and Native American themes.
But by expanding the guitar's
repertoire, through his own tran-
seription, to involve such "big"
pieces as Mussorgsky's Pictures at
an Exhibition or Stravinsky's Fire-
bird Suite, the Nagasaki native
hopes to bring about his new age
nit through radical experimentation,
"}ut through harmonizing with tradi-
tipnal music along with something
new." His Ann Arbor recital includes
works by Sor and J.S. Bach, out of
,the guitar tradition pioneered by the
4egendary Andres Segovia and con-
tinued by the established American
star Christopher Parkening - who
performed a Segovia tribute last
night at Hull- Auditorium. -But Ya-
nashita's program also features
Folios I-III" by Takemitsu, a coun-
"yman whose new works Yamashita
:wants to introduce; the guitarist's
pther projects; include collaborations
With ensembles and traditional
Japanese instruments, as well as
duos with his younger sister Naoko.
;After debiting on the concert
stage in Eufope in 1980 (he toured
n 1978 through Japan, where he has
,lready relqd&d 40 albums), Ya-
*rnashita finally debuted in the


k.d. la ng: A
Star in the
There aren't many Stars today
that can tinker with and mildly sub-
vert the cultural mainstream. To be
enormously popular and actually
have something of substance to offer
often seem incompatible, and it's
only very few of our most potent
cultural icons that accomplish both.
In the field of pop, the only Mega
Star worth considering is Madonna,
and there isn't that much competi-
tion from younger hopefuls. But
soon k.d. lang will be on the cover
of every magazine and discussed in
excited whispers in public places.
Where Madonna has the spirit of
several Hollywood glam queens, k.d.
lang has the presences of Lena
Horne, Judy Garland and Gloria
Steinem all rolled into one. On Fri-
day night at the Michigan Theater,
k.d. lang had the audience rapt for
over an hour. It's patently clear that
k.d. has charisma with a capital K,
and an aura of star quality surround-
ing her. At her Detroit show in Au-
gust, she seemed very slick and con-
trived in her chat with the audience,
but at the Michigan you could see
that she responded with wit and
spontaneity to shouted comments
from audience members. Her reaction

to the audience's love seemed gen-
uinely humble.
k.d. played a varied set that
showcased her more frisky country
numbers as well as her wide reper-
toire of ballads. On the more
uptempo songs, the reclines were
very tight and proved that they are an
integral part of the lang sound. In
her baggy, purple suit k.d. was as
sexy as Elvis, also perfecting the
Presley sneer on one of the more
frenzied rockabilly workouts. "To
dance is human, to polka is divine,"
shouted k.d. as the band threw them-
selves into one of their many coun-
try knees-ups.
The performance had more fervor
than her studio recordings. Even the
ballads had a warmer glow, despite
the acoustics of the cavernous
Michigan Theater. It's when k.d.
sings her slow songs that her voice
is at her most moving. Her version
of Roy Orbison's "Crying" was
spine-tingling. Her cover versions
are delights; they are always arranged
differently from the originals, elicit-
ing new meanings and resonances.
During Patsy Cline's "Three Ci-
garettes and an Ashtray," you could
feel the collective sigh, even though
a couple of divots in the audience
laughed at the lyrical conceits of the
song. Under k.d.'s touch, Cline's
"Walkin' after Midnight" bloomed
into a wispy, jazz torch song far su-

perior to the clunky original.
It didn't matter whether this was
country music, jazz, or pop. Musical
distinctions were effaced by k.d.'s
all-encompassing voice, and the au-
dience left feeling that they had wit-
nessed the arrival of a shining new
--Nabeel Zuberi
Visions of Bob
Bob Dylan has always been hard
to figure.
Sometimes he's a recluse. Some-
times he's a joker. Sometimes he's a
prophet. Sometimes he's a hard
rocker. Sometimes he's even a Trav-
eling Wilbury.
Ironically, though, at Hill Audi-
torium Wednesday night, he was
Sure, he tossed out a few sur-
prises, like stirring versions of
"Song To Woody," his tribute to
Woody Guthrie off his first album,
"Visions of Johanna," and "It's All
Right, Ma." But for the most part,
Dylan - with help from guitarist
G.E. Smith and a fabulous two-per-
son rhythm core - confidently
chugged through 25 years of his
most solid work in an hour and a
This is a man who knows what
he's doing.
See REVIEWS, Page 10

Japan's Kazuhito Yamashita has already earned almost legendary status
in Europe with his unprecedented guitar adaptations of orcehstral works
by Dvorak und Mussorsgky; his first U.S. solo tour arrives here tonight.

U.S.A. in March 1987, personally
invited by the celebrated Irish flutist
James Galway to undertake a five-
date tour which drew immediate ac-
claim. "He seems destined," declared
The Pittsburgh Press, "to achiever
the monumental success achieved by+

MASHITA performs tonight at 8
p.m. at Rackham Auditorium. Ad-
vance tickets are available at the
University Musical Society's Bur-
ton Tower office and the Michigan
Union Box Office; $5 student rush
tickets go on sale today at 10 a.m. at
Burton Tower only.

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