by Aryan Kaganof (writer, artist, film director)
Precison and abstraction. Tomoko Mukaiyama is always concerned with these two processes.Her precision is not relative, it is absolute. Her abstraction is not diffuse or confused, it is condensing, intensifying; perspicacity itself. The clarity of the precision of her playing is always abstract and Tomoko’s abstraction is always precise.
FOR YOU, an extraordinary concept – the pianist alone in a gutted out shell of a concert hall with her audience of one. Meeting the audience on equal terms as it were. The experience of Ms. Mukaiyama playing Bach, Galina Ustvolskaya and Louis Andriessen FOR ME was overwhelming. There is a lot of political jargon about “empowerment” these days – but no aesthetic experience I have ever had before or since literally empowered me to the extent that this recital did. A heightened sense of time, space and deity – the absolute certainty that what was being performed was an act of worship, and that I was not an audience member but a co-worshipper. Doing my best to hold in the tears at the end of the recital, bowing to each other – and then walking through the cold Haarlem winter air on the way back to the train station – knowing quite clearly that I would never need to attend a concert performance again.
Performing with Tomoko at the Centraal Museum in Utrecht provided another context to appreciate her consummate professionalism. Rehearsals attacked with absolutely detailed concentration. Every minute of rehearsal time used with voracious exactitude in order toextract the maximum amount of musicality from our time’s potential. Yet nothing in therehearsals giving any sense of the explosive emotionality that the public performance held instore. Ms Mukaiyama’s tiny hands navigating their way across the massive Fazioli keyboard as if driven by inner demons of their own. An epiphanous performance.
Rehearsing with Tomoko and Masami Akita for days on end in Amsterdam’s Ysbreker. Her good cheer and inability to surrender – no matter how exacting Merzbow’s compositional idiosyncracies may be on her fingers. The performance at Amsterdam’s Paradiso charged with tension – great rumbles of electronic pain gushing all around the almost impossibly sophisticated textures of her pianism. After listening to the recording her impish grinning – “I would do anything to play with this band.”
A lasting memory of Tomoko Mukaiyama – the look of fierce determination on her face engraving itself into my retinas in total counter point to the achingly beautiful melodies her fingers are coaxing from out of the most hidden, most secret regions of the piano’s soul.
Precision and abstraction, perfectly balanced.