The reviewer is very positive.
This CD is a striking appearance. Just take the cover, on which an organ is depicted in the middle of the forest, with a rabbit as admirer. Music from another world. That becomes completely clear when you open the booklet and pages full of Japanese characters embrace you. Fortunately, a translation into English will follow. In it the organist Mineko Kojima tells her personal story. She has long disliked her own organ playing. She found the sounds she elicited from the instrument especially ugly. Only after she was put on the trail of the French Baroque by a teacher did the pieces begin to fall into place. The introduction to old Spanish music then became a kind of coming home. Personal grief could take hold when she heard the melodies of Correa de Arauxo, whose Islamic accents sounded to her like a somewhat husky female voice.
After reading this very personal story I was curious if I could also hear that the organist had indeed come home to the repertoire she is playing. Well, that’s quite the case. The CD starts and ends with old Spanish music: Francisco Correa de Arauxo at the beginning and Pablo Bruna at the end. I could imagine that the Tiento of the latter composer could also be played more flamboyantly. But the perfect peace with which Mineko Kojima carries out the work is just as beneficial. Meanwhile, her performances are by no means static. She wields a delicate rubato, which just doesn’t run off with her. It all remains very internalized. The heart of the CD is formed by the four verses of the Ave maris stella by Jehan Titleouze, which are given a settled and transparent interpretation.
The choice for this particular work by Titleouze will be partly inspired by the name of Mary as Star of the Sea. It is surrounded by works by the Japanese composer Yui Kakinuma (born 1961). One of his six Preludes bears the title ‘La nuit étoilée’, the night starred. It has also become the title of the CD. Titleouze is followed by another work by Kakinuma, ‘Les étoiles’, the stars. It’s not about sky-storming music. The idiom remains traditional, especially in the six Preludes, sometimes with some neo-Baroque influences. Yet that is precisely why his music fits in well with the old Spanish and French works on the CD. Because these pieces also radiate a great inner peace. Preludes sound beautiful on the organ. But I would also like to hear them on the instrument they were intended for: the harpsichord. The latest Prelude in particular will come into its own.
The conclusion may be that those who like thunderous climaxes and screeching plena should not order this CD. But those who would like to relax with refined organ playing, buy this Japanese disc without delay. I have played this CD many times now, also in the car, and experience the playing of this Japanese organist as a blessing for the soul. That’s why I can only regret that there is less than an hour of music on her CD. Finally, something about the organ. It is an instrument by the French builder Aubertin from 2001. A beautiful instrument with strings, roaring reeds and tingling filling voices. I particularly noticed the Cimbel. A filling voice that often rests a bit on the organ sound, but rarely mixes beautifully here.