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RECORDINGS: ALLA BREVE

January 19, 1986|JOE SALTZMAN

'JAPANESE MELODIES." Yo-Yo Ma, cello. Patricia Zander, harpsichord. Michio Mamiya conducting the Pro Musica Nipponia. CBS Masterworks Compact Disc MK 39703. As flutists Jean-Pierre Rampal and James Galway and violinist Isaac Stern have discovered, there is much to tantalize Western ears in Japan's musical heritage. Mamiya has arranged, with originality and gusto, traditional Japanese music that affords Ma wide latitude in adding all sorts of virtuosic business to some fascinating melodies. Mamiya even wrote one of the more sophisticated pieces for Ma, the ending "Chiran-Bushi." The sound is first-rate, capturing the warmth of the cello and the precision of the percussion, bass and flute while not turning Zander's harpsichord into the clanging mess so often heard on records. The only fault with this CD is the non-existent album notes--a fatal flaw in a collection of this kind. Not even the titles are translated and there is no information whatsoever on the music or players. Consumers should be furious.

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