Michio Miyagi - Masterpieces of Koto (1956), 7/10

Michio Miyagi was clearly a master, as the title implies, and this collection reflects his legendary playing and composition quite well. The recording quality is excellent as is the range of styles and dynamics, capturing a time and place of music history that deserves attention for its singularity. Especially considering Miyagi’s blindness starting at the youthful age of eight and achieving the rank of kengyo just ten years later, his incredible talent is just that much more remarkable and moving. Even more accentuated by his early and tragic death during the same year as this record’s release. He takes us on a remarkably diverse journey, yet keeping traditional koto aesthetics in play, maintaining a discernable mysterious air through each movement. There is an instantly recognizable feeling from the start, for myself an admittedly nostalgic one that holds a special place. The pairing of koto with this traditional impression and method is a perfect match, and this recording is the best model for its aesthetic. An obviously exemplary masterwork from Miyagi and a natural starting place for exploring traditional Japanese music.