Each April, cherry blossoms light up landscapes and bring pops of pink and white to still-gray skies. Crowds flock to sites across Japan (a country famous for its blooms) to take in the fleeting beauty, and these images adorn pianist Hideyuki Hashimoto's first two 2020 albums, titled April - Tree and April - Water. Spring unfolds similarly here in the Pacific Northwest, and while the composer's April releases were not discovered by this site until well-past blossom season, his new album of piano works titled breath, revives those colorful spring scenes.
Little information is given about breath, but it is billed as a "live album," unlike the rest of Hashimoto's catalogue of carefully captured studio recordings. It is the composer's style to pare things back to minimal structures and soft, emotive tones, but there is a deeper level of rawness here. Some of the 18 songs are improvised, others feel like unfinished sketches. There are wisps of ideas just beginning here, and performances of favorites presented differently. We tend to celebrate finished products, any rough edge polished down, but here, listeners can marvel at thought-in-motion and the beauty found in small imperfections. Though it is composite in nature, the hour-long album of live recordings plays very well straight through, and like the blossoms each spring, it should be both celebrated and cherished.