If you like good music, classical guitarist Kaori Muraji’s Portraits is some of the best.
Kaori doesn’t just sit in a recording studio and play some tunes like a lot a classical artists do. She has put a lot of thought into the way this album is laid out. Just when you want to hear a little more slow lyrical guitar playing with those lush extended ternary chords, she switches to an impossible flurry of virtuosic technique. She stuns you with both musicianship and technical capacity from start to finish.
Just when you think you’ve heard everything she has to offer, she takes you on a educational journey of every sound this instrument is capable of making. But not just for the sake of using the whole guitar’s sound spectrum. She finds legitimate artistic reasons for playing near the bridge, in the center, both hands on the neck, using the body as a drum, open harmonics, pitched harmonics, ect. After using each sound, the listener is still fully present to the music itself. She relentlessly pulls the listener towards the big picture.
Kaori is not afraid to simply entertain her audience either. Tunes by Chopin, Bernstein, Schumann, Clapton, and Lennon along with an original arrangement of “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”, will pleasantly surprise you as you move through this experience. She rightly recognizes that familiarity adds contrast to a group of pieces like Portraits.
I generally get bored with classical music after a while. But I have listened to this album twice in a one day and was sad that I didn’t have the time to listen to it a third time. I’ll be surprised if the same doesn’t happen for you.