glass notes
Eroticism, Beauty and Longing for Death: Maki Namekawa plays Philip Glass’ MISHIMA

Mishima Solo Piano Press Release:

On September 7th, 2018, Maki Namekawa premieres the piano version of Philip Glass’ soundtrack to Paul Schrader’s film MISHIMA – A Life in Four Chapters.
The 1985 film by Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver, American Gigolo), produced by Francis Ford Coppola, employs a highly stylized aesthetic to portray the life of the Japanese poet and three-time Nobel Prize nominee Yukio MISHIMA.

In 2018, Maki Namekawa recorded the piano version of the entire film score for MISHIMA – A Life in Four Chapters (Glass’ first Hollywood score), for the first time since the original soundtrack in 1985.

Namekawa’s performance features her crystal-clear technique, which corresponds perfectly to Glass’ music. Glass’ musical character-study of Mishima is consistent with his other “portrait operas” (Kepler, Einstein on the Beach).
Yukio MISHIMA’s meandering sexuality, his unusual intellect, his uncompromising artistic and political energy, and his erotic fascination with violent death set off a chain of events on November 25th, 1970 that led to a high-ranking General in the Japanese Self-Defense Forces being taken hostage by MISHIMA’s private army and then to MISHIMA’s death by harakiri.

Due to the decidedly negative reaction of MISHIMA’s family to the Schrader/Glass film, the film studio distanced itself and the film was not released in Japan.  MISHIMA himself said he would only be understood in Japan after 50 or 100 years – even today, the honor paid to his art coexists with perplexity at his actions on the day of his death.

Philip Glass decided in 2014 that Maki Namekawa should be the first pianist to record his Complete Piano Etudes. The double CD was released in November 2014 and reached number 1 on the iTunes Classical Charts. Making the first recording of MISHIMA, as a Japanese pianist and with a piano arrangement crafted especially for her by Glass’ longtime musical director Michael Riesman, is a new high point in the collaboration between Namekawa and Glass.