Junko Ueda - L'épopée des Heike (1990)
Today I would like you to hear a wonderful album of traditional Japanese music. Junko Ueda (上田純子) studied the Satsuma biwa (薩摩琵琶) under Kinshi Tsuruta (鶴田錦史, whose albums on Ocora and King are also highly recommended). She is now herself one of the big names in the genre, and doesn't shy away from more contemporary fare either, as performances of works by John Cage, Toshi Ichiyanagi (一柳慧) and Jean-Claude Éloy confirm. On this French CD release ('The Epic of the Heike'), she sings and strums her way through three chapters of the Heike Monogatari (平家物語), written around 1200. They are:
1. 敦盛 (Atsumori)
2. 那須与一 (Nasu no Yoichi)
3. 大原御幸 (Ōhara-Gokō)
Chilling stuff, this ain't no parsley sage rosemary & thyme. Scans of the English half of the booklet can be found here (sorry for the separate download). Files have been tagged in Japanese.