Reviews from Europe
Their performance was as precise and gracious … the didactic treatment of counterpoint suddenly turns into musical refinement and loveliness. The fact that the eloquence of the gamba was not extinguished in the Baroque was proven by these Japanese ladies.
At the Concert halls of Vereins and Westbank, September 20, 1991, Die Welt, Hamburg
“Suite fur noble Katzen anf Japanischen Violen”. The sound was extremely well-blended and well-articulated, and the instruments enriched the polyphonic texture still more clearly with rhythmic and dynamic sensibilities.
September 20, 1991, Hamburger Abendblatt
Reviews from United States of America
From 2006 North American Tour
“Viol consort makes up for slow start with vivid Baroque interpretation” As they showed on the rest of the program, they can be lively and adventurous in repertoire and interpretation. Bach’s Toccata BWV914… Their remarkable ensemble gestures slid seamlessly in midphrase from player to player. They were like sisters completing each other’s sentences. Conceicao’s “Battle” … The consort aptly roughened the sound of this rustic tone poem. Sato’s “Sang Hwa”, Loeb’s “The Cries of Kyoto” and Fantasia “Tohoku” and Hirose’s “Suite for Noble Cats”… These engaging pieces require extended techniques unheard in the viol’s Renaissance and Baroque salad days… are the viol consort’s natural habitat. That’s not too polite.
Tom Strini, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, April 9, 2006
“East Interprets West” East did meet West through this Japanese consort’s noteworthy ability to select, arrange, and place a personal interpretive stamp upon great works from severaral centuries of the Western musical tradition.
Jonathan Rhodes Lee, San Francisco Classical Voice, San Francisco, CA, April 1, 2006
“Kambe, viol-mates produce natural, effortless music” These four virtuosi have honed the art of viol playing to the ultimate level of refinement and beauty of sound. … Their playing is exquisite, an efloration of warm resonance, with a firm, precise energy as gentle as the movement of light airs, softly flowing water and the sunny play of light and shadow in a leafy grove. In other word, natural and effortless.
Stephen Pedersen, The Chronicle Herald, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, March 22, 2006
“Consert blends new, old harmoniously” The consort performed…a gentle call to attention, with spotlessly tight ensemble and exquisite intonation.
Jennifer Hambrick, The Columbus Dispach, March 11, 2006
From 2004 American Tour
“Fine Old Strings” They are not only experts in new music. The first half of the program included some real standards for viol consort as well as a few old friends in new guises. On the standard end, the group chose Charpentier’s lovely Concert in d minor. …the consort displayed an intimate knowledge of French musical language. …Purcell’s fifth Fantasia, replete with classic Purcellian clashing dissonances.
…Tenor viol player Eriko Ozawa had a lovely moment in the sun in Ludwig Senfl’s “Ich stund an einem Morgen”. …Diego Ortiz’ Recercada Secunda sobre “Passamezzo Moderno” were remarkably performed by Kaori Hashizume. …Their strumming, bowing and percussive knocking provided a lively setting for the dance. Yukimi Kambe shone on the highly ornamented chorale tune “O Man, Bemoan thy Grievous Sin” set by Bach in the Little Organ Book. Her melody floated beautifully over the organ-like homogeneity of the viol consort sound. Maki Noguchi’s steadily lovely performance of the chorale tune in Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” contributed to the novel and effective performance of this old favorite.
Sunday’s selection also featured new favorites…Sang Hwa by young Japanese composer Yoko Sato. Sato fully exploits the capacity for the viols, including chordal passages, strumming, various other pizzicato techniques and a variety of bowings, all executed by the consort. …Ryouhei Hirose’s Suite for Noble Cats…the members of the YKVC displayed a great sense of fun and freedom, collectively varying their tempo and visibly enjoying themselves. …the group impeccably performed a challenging and pleasurable selection of pieces.
Rebekah Ahrendt, San Francisco Classical Voice, San Francisco, CA, March 25, 2004
From 2002 American Tour
“Yukimi Kambe Consort superbly connects past and present” The players are superb. The group has the same precision and wordless communication as a longstanding string quartet. That is rare here, where even established viol groups are likely to come together from different cities just for concentrated rehearsals before a tour.
Philippa Kiraly, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, March 5, 2002
“4 Viols: The sound of 1 mind, playing” Every piece played with tremendous musicality and integrity. … The four instruments … created a wonderfully balanced sound. The four women are … matching articulations, accents and releases flawlessly.
Elaine Schmidt, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, February 24, 2002
At the July 2000 Viola da Gamba Society of America Conclave at Portland, Oregon,
~ the largest gathering of gambists in the world ~ these comments were made:
I have never heard a concert with greater delicacy and brilliance of performance than that of the Kambe Consort.
George Houle, Professor of Music Emeritus, Stanford University
Of all our concerts in the year 2000, the Kambe Consort had by far the best reviews ~ for many it was the absolute high point of the Conclave.
Martha Bishop, Artistic Director
The Kambe Viol Consort plays with the suave polish of a great string quartet. They can both astonish and charm.
Brent Wissick, UNC-Chapel Hill, President VdGSA
The standing ovation, the only one I can recall in recent years at the conclave, was well deserved.
John Mark, MusicSources, Berkeley
The Yukimi Kambe Viol Consort revealed highly polished technicians with a cosmopolitan, dominating intelligence, warmth and humor. The audience saw a commitment to the music itself that goes beyond questions of individuality vs. commonality.
Lyle York, from “Gamba News” Sep. 2000, Oakland, California
The instruments of the Yukimi Kambe Viol Consort sound like they are being played by a single person. It is a different conception of art.
Reviews from Japan
“Fascinated by warm sounds” The warm sound of the gambas filled the whole temple precinct. Sometimes they made harmonies together, and sometimes their melodies followed one another. Each instrument showed its good characteristics at the concert.
At Kenninji Temple, International Music Festival in Kyoto ’92
The Asahi Shinbun, December 10, 1992
The program “The creation of modern music with the viola da gamba” was really rich and of high-quality. It was a precious treasure of music. Congratulations! I also appreciated the performances having sharp expressions, full of tension and yet at the same time gentle and flexible.
Junzo OHAMA, music critic and chief director of NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) (Exhibition of Viol Music X-2, Misakicho Church, Tokyo)
The harmonic sound made by four gambas is rich in familiar feeling and beautiful, which, beyond the harmony of Western music, we can take in the beauty of calmness of traditional Japanese culture. This consort has an extensive repertoire of gentle English music and flowery French music. In their concerts contemporary Japanese works for gamba are frequently played. Their unconventionality is effective enough to entertain the audience. Through the heartwarming concert of this consort, many in the audience recognize the charm of the viola da gamba.
Tadashi ISOYAMA, Professor of Kunitachi College of Music, Tokyo
The Yukimi Kambe Viol Consort is the only consort group in performance continually and vigorously throughout Japan. The outstanding achievement of this consort is that through inviting many composers to write new works for them (in addition to the well-known Renaissance and Baroque pieces) they have actively broadened the possibilities of the viol consort and have made great efforts to increase their audiences.
The performances of the Yukimi Kambe Viol Consort are distinguished by their miraculous harmony brought by a sense of tuning, their excellent ensemble techniques and comprehensive interpretations based on thorough preparation. Considering the above-mentioned background, no one doubts whether my statement is quite appropriate.
Prof. Dr. Ryuichi HIGUCHI, Musicologist & Conductor, Director of University Library, MeijiGakuin University, Tokyo
The Yukimi Kambe Viol Consort under the direction of Ms. Kambe leads a highly unique existence. Without ever disregarding traditional works they play premiere performances of contemporary composers’ works very flexibly, capturing the essence of each piece as well. I don’t know of any such unique ensemble in Japan other than the Yukimi Kambe Viol Consort. All composers like me are secretly waiting until they call us and give us a chance to write for them.
Hikaru HAYASHI, composer
The Yukimi Kambe Viol Consort is a highly significant ensemble, performing traditional and modern repertoire with equal enthusiasm. I hope that many people throughout the world will come to know this consort, and they will be able to expand their activities greatly.
Kikuko MASSUMOTO, composer
The performance activity of Ms. Yukimi Kambe and her group gives an Oriental spirit to early European instruments.
Haruna MIYAKE, composer / pianist
“They put new wine into new wineskins”, says the New Testament, but this consort bravely puts music into the old skins more and more. Sometime the vessel may be torn, but they always find a way to mend it; they have after all created a “vessel” for both new and old music.
Tsutomu MIZUNO, composer
I have watched them develop into an outstanding ensemble combining extreme precision, clarity of sound, and vivacity with deep knowledge and understanding of their highly varied repertoire ranging from the early Renaissance through the present. The attributes cannot exist in the absence of great commitment. They have given more premiere performance of recent works than most new music or contemporary ensembles.
David LOEB, composer
The voices of audience
* I found a new attempt in it to make something new, which left extremely positive impressions.
Yuji ISA, Artist, Professor of Tokai University
(German-Japanese Encounter of Consort Music, Oct. 8, 1993, St. Ignatius Church, Yostuya, Tokyo)
* It has a different world from the violin.
* With the colorful expressiveness and the beauty of harmony, I had a quite pleasant time. I felt as if I swam in the waves.
Rika ANO (Evening with Viol Consort Music, Dec. 6, 1998, Minato Mirai Hall, Yokohama)
Yukimi Kambe Viol Consort, Foglia d’olivo, works for viols by Tsutomu Mizuno.
The CD’s title, Foglia d’olivo translates as “Olive leaf.” It refers to the fact that Noah sent out a dove to find dry land and it returned to the ark with an olive leaf. (Genesis 8:11) Mr. Mizuno aims to compose pleasant works both for audiences and performers.
The Kambe Consort provides us with its usual excellent performances of these Mizuno pieces with impeccable ensemble, musical interpretation, and perfectly tuned sonorities.
In casual listening to this recording the overall impression can be that of hearing many cat cries, but the listener is encouraged to listen closely to the innovative harmonies, interesting rhythms, viol/voice sonorities, dramatic moments and great variety of sounds. This is a welcome collection of accessible modern music for viols!
Martha Bishop, Atlanta GA, VdGSA news, p.15, September 2003
David Loeb: Four Fantasias for the Japanese Consort PRB Production, CC041. These fantasias are heard in CD:
Echoes from Bronze Bells — Music by David Loeb. VMM2029.
These pieces were written for the Yukimi Kambe Consort. It includes many short descriptive pieces. Among them, “Cries of Kyoto” and the Fantasia “Tohoku”, were inspired by Japanese traditional music, especially in their scales. Another piece, “Indonesian” employs Balinese and Javanese scales. The last one, a very joyful piece, “Indian” is based on Indian classical music. In all the pieces, it is commonly observed that Loeb actively introduces a new sound for the gamba consort, and just occasionally borrows the “classical” European consort style. Thus, there emerges a wonderful, impressionistic, charming miniature of sound. One can hardly think of it. Nor can one learn it other than from the attractive and sonorous interpretation in the above-mentioned CD of the Yukimi Kambe Consort. It is a true development of the consort repertoire, though exclusively for advanced players. Pierre Funck, Viola da Gamba Gesellschaft Switzerland, p.15, Mitteilungen Nr.53, März 2004
Pierre Funck, p.15, Mitteilungen Nr.53 März 2004, Viola da Gamba Gesellschaft Switzerland
Ja, doch Bach mit Gambenconsort, YKVC0503
The latest recording of the Yukimi Kambe Viol Consort is a real treasure of beautiful music played exquisitely. True, most of the works on the recording are transcriptions of organ and harpsichord works, but even purists on the subject of authenticity are sure to appreciate the subtle inflections viols are able to give to Bach’s counterpoint. Yukimi’s carefully prepared CD notes explain that viols were brought to Japan by Portuguese missionaries in 1561 to assist in singing masses because there was no organ until about 1580. So Yukimi felt the consort was following historical practice in playing organ music on viols. Additionally, it gave her consort further insights into expressive playing and expanded their repertoire. Of course it goes without saying that Bach himself often re-scored his own pieces to suit various purposes.
Selections on the CD are drawn from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Musical Offering, Art of Fugue, cantatas and chorales. Yukimi considers playing chorales as a starting point for playing viol consorts because the viol historically has imitated the human voice. One of the most stunning pieces on the CD (musically as well as visually–I’ve seen them perform it !) is the Prelude No.1 from Well-Tempered Clavier. In the Kambe version, each player of the consort plucks one or two notes in the arpeggios, in the manner of hand-bells. The result is stunningly coordinated and expressive–quite harp-like. Florid playing bordering on virtuosic is often present on the CD, notably in much of the treble obbligato playing, and in the bass’s finale in the organ toccata. The toccata is also particularly effective on viols because of the bariolage technique, and effect completely lost on organ.
I definitely think Bach himself would approve of the spirit and beauty of this recording, and want to own it and listen to it many times!
Martha Bishop, p.9, VdGSA news, Dec.2005
Articles on Yukimi Kambe Viol Consort are found in the followings:
*Focus on Japan by Shulamit Kleinerman, pp.37-, Early Music America Winter 2007
*The Pan-Pacific Gamba Gathering by Brent Wissick, p.11, 13, VdGSA News,
*On the list of RipMeister Publications, p.27, VdGSA News, Sep.2006
*From New Haven by Marshall Barron, p.3, / From Seattle by Ellen Seibert, p.6, VdGSA News, June 2006
*Yukimi Kambe Viol Consort 2006 Tour by Chester Pearlman, p.3, VdGSA News, Mar. 2006
*Review: Ja, doch Bach mit Gambenconsort by Martha Bishop, p.9, VdGSA News, Dec. 2005
*On the List of Music from PRB Productions by Peter Ballinger, p.25 Sept., p.21, Dec. 2005, p.26 Mar., p.22, June, p.22, Sep., p.22, Dec.,2006, p.23, Mar. 2007
*Review Yukimi Kambe Viol Consort by Rebekah Ahrendt SAN FRANCISCO CLASSICAL VOICE, Mar. 2004
*Conclave 2004 Highlights, – Something New pp.2~3, p.6 by David Dreyfuss, / Kambe Consort 2004 Visits to the USA by Ellen Seibert pp.16~17, VdGSA News, Sep. 2004
*News from Here and There VdGSA News, p.5, June 2004
*Yukimi Kambe Viol Consort Tour VdGSA News, p.5, Mar. 2004
*Review: Yukimi Kambe Viol Consort by Rebekah Ahrendt, San Francisco Classical Voice, Mar. 2004
*On Music publication YKVCM p.12, / Review: David Loeb, Four Fantasias for the Japanese Consort by Judith Davidoff, p.14, VdGSA News, Dec. 2003
*Review: Yukimi Kambe Viol Consort, Foglia d’olivo by Martha Bishop, p.15,Sep. 2003
*Conclave 2004: Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed…and Some Blues by Brent Wissick, p.1 / News from Japan by Yukimi Kambe, p.5, VdGSA News, June 2003
*Annual Report of the VdGS-Pacifica Chapter by Lee McRae / Further Adventures of the Yukimi Kambe Viol Consort in Pacifica Territory by David Dreyfuss / Kambe Consort in Seattle by Ellen Seibert / Yukimi Kambe Viol Consort American Tour 2002 by Yukimi Kambe Viol Consort, pp.6~10, VdGSA News, June 2002
*Further adventures of the Yukimi Kambe Viol Consort by David Dreyfuss / Excerpts from Luciana Lombardi’s program, pp.6~9, VdGS-Pacifica, April 2002
*News from Berkeley by Lyle York, including Why we play new music on the viol by Yukimi Kambe, pp.4~5, VdGSA News, Mar. 20022
*Report on the Yukimi Kambe Viol Consort by Lyle York, including Why we play new music on the viol by Yukimi Kambe, p.4, VdGS-Pacifica, Mar. 2002
*An Interview with Members of the Yukimi Kambe Consort pp.5~6, VdGSA News, Dec. 2001
*Interview with Yukimi Kambe Consort Members and Notice of their 2002 Tour in America by Ellen Seibert VdGS-Pacific Northwest Sep. 2001
*Yukimi Kambe Viol Consort Tour by Lee McRae p.14, VdGSA News, Sep. 2001 / 2002 Kambe Consort Tour by Lee McRae p.4, VdGSA News, Mar. 2001
*Conclave 2000 by Lyle York and Brent Wissick VdGSA News, p.3~7, Sep. 2000
*Celebrate the viol NOW! Conclave 2000!, p.1, VdGSA News, Mar. 2000
*Concert By The Kambe Consort by Lisa Terry VdGSA News, p.4, Sep. 1988
*Professional Consort Emerges in Japan by David Loeb VdGSA News, p.5, Dec. 1987