“Piano Suite”, composed in 1934, is the only solo piece for piano by Ifukube. It is a nationalistic work which was inspired by Japanese traditional events, and consists of four songs: “Bon-Odori”, “Tanabata”, “Nagashi”, and “Nebuta”.
Ifukube composed this music at the age of 19, when he studied composition by himself, while studying forestry at Hokkaido University. This song was written for the Spanish pianist George Copland but was not premiered for the civil war at the time. Four years later, “Piano Suite” was premiered when it received an honourable mention at the I.C.S.M. festival in Venice, and Ifukube gained worldwide attention. He arranged it for orchestras and Japanese music instruments later.
Bon-Odori (about three minutes and 40 seconds)
Bon-Odori music with two themes is vividly developed, while having a rhythm imitating the Japanese drum.
Tanabata (about three minutes 30 seconds)
The traditional theme, that is reminiscent of Tanabata night, is repeated many times while developing beautifully.
Nagashi (about three minutes 50 seconds)
Following the gorgeous introduction, it seems as if the themes are sung by the wandering musicians, “Nagashi”, with sorrow and sadness across the rhythmic middle section.
Nebuta (about five minutes)
The subject of this song is the Nebuta Festival in Aomori. Three themes are powerfully constructed on the ostinato through this song.