First of all, I'm not sure why this 2017 album bears the title "Masterpiece II," unless it's because it follows an album guitarist Mario Suzuki made ten years earlier called "Masterpiece I." Certainly, there are no actual "masterpieces" or classics on the program unless the producers are engaging in a bit of hyperbole. Second, I'm not sure why the album bears the subtitle "Touching folklore music," since it appears Mr. Suzuki wrote all of the selections himself, thus negating the notion of folklore referring to traditional songs or stories handed down by people from generation to generation. I'm going to assume here that Mr. Suzuki is a folklorist the way Bob Dylan is a folk singer. None of which makes any difference in the least because this is a terrifically well recorded album of pleasantly performed guitar music that is sure to impress (and soothe) almost anyone.
Admittedly, I was not familiar with Mr. Suzuki before this album, so I looked up some information about him. According to Elusive Disc, "Mario Suzuki is a writer, composer and excellent guitar player! Suzuki is an extraordinary individual who you may not have heard of... but once you hear him play, he is hard to forget. Folklore guitarra is the traditional Spanish folk guitar music popular in the Spanish speaking countries in South America. It also includes contemporary guitar music which carries on much of the tradition of the folklore guitar music. It is of a completely different type either from American style modern folk music or pop folklore band music.
"Born in Tokyo, Japan in 1947 Mario Suzuki is a native of Japan. He has learned music composition and folklore guitar playing from Mr. Atsumasa Nakabayashi. He also learned folklore playing from both Jesusbenites (president of Mexican folklore guitarra association) and master folklore guitarist Eduardo Falu in Argentine. Mario has composed amazingly more than 500 pieces of folklore music."
On the present album, Mr. Suzuki plays either alone or with accompanists Masao Okada, guitar; Miyuki Fujimoto, guitar; and Susumu Nishizaki, piano. Here's a rundown of their program:
4. In Breezing
5. Thinking of You
6. Cinema (New Snow Village) Theme
7. Memory Of Arashiyama
8. At Hotel La Mirador
9. Elapsed Waltz
11. In Granada
12. Night Goes On
13. Remembering of You
16. Voice of Wave
While I'm still not persuaded that these tunes are quite "masterpieces," I cannot deny their peaceful beauty. Nor can I deny the audiophile quality of JVC's remastering for Master Music. I just wish the total time for the album, forty-three minutes, had been a little longer.
Producers Kazuo Kiuchi and Shizuo Nomiyama and engineer Yoshihiko Kannari recorded the music at Onkio Haus Studio (aka Onkyo House), Tokyo in November 2017. Tohru Kotetsu mastered the compact disc at JVC Mastering Center, Japan in January 2018 using XRCD24/K2 technology. A further note adds that "This album was directly recorded in half inch analog tape, 15ips. Mastered utilizing JVC 24bit AD converter with Digital K2, Rubidium clock."
That seems impressive, but does the album actually sound as good as what's written about the processing? Well, it sounds pretty good, that's for sure. Indeed, it's one of the finest-sounding guitar albums I've ever heard. The instruments have a warm, smooth, natural appearance, much like hearing them live in the room with you. Recorded on analog tape (and remastered digitally), the sound betrays no digital edge. The miking is somewhat close in order to capture a full fidelity dynamic range and transient impact, yet it's not objectionably close. The duets and trios are especially well spaced across the sound stage, and the room reflections are well judged. This is an audiophile disc, to be sure, and as such it probably sounds better in accordance with the quality of one's playback equipment.
You can find Master Music products at some of the best prices at Elusive Disc: http://www.elusivedisc.com/
To listen to a brief excerpt from this album, click below: