Music and Dance Reviews : Traditional Japanese Music and Dance at LACMA

The way extreme formality of style can highlight interpretive choices and expressive contrasts loomed large in a program of mostly traditional Japanese music and dance at the Bing Theater, County Museum of Art, on Sunday.

In the koto- shakuhachi duet "Aki no Kotonoha," for instance, Hiromi Hashibe plucked her zither-like, 13-stringed instrument with such indomitable rhythmic security, that when she brushed her fingers against the strings, the unexpected, momentary effect proved electrifying.

Similarly, in the antique dance solo "Kurokami," with Kansumi Fujima in severe formal kimono, wig and makeup, the measured deliberation of the performance gave every gestural detail (the pointed finger, for example) the prominence of an emotional statement in high relief.

Another master of small-scale frissons , Kodo Araki V, made the minutest ripple from his shakuhachi (a five-finger-holed bamboo flute) seem a powerful vortex of turbulence in a stream of mellow tone. Through the coloristic effects of his meditative solo "Hifumi Hachigaeshi" and, with Hashibe, in the intricate, stately structuralism of "Midare" and the virtuosic modernism of "Ichikotsu," he played with great purity and vigor.

Insightful introductions by Kayoko Wakita graciously compensated for the ridiculously incomplete program information. Indeed, two more performers, both unlisted, need to be credited: the museum's video crew that interfered with audience visibility and concentration on Sunday.

One was permanently stationed at the left front of the house, his camera on the forestage. The other roamed, moving in front of the first row of seats to the right of center-stage at the start of "Hifumi Hachigaeshi"--thus forcing audience members behind him to move during the solo if they wanted to see.

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