Fumio Yasuda - Schumann's Bar Music

Bars have exerted a fascination over me ever since the first time I set foot in such a place. A strange feeling of elsewhereness had already captured me back then; it was like entering another world, far away from everyday life. And this mood still gets hold of me whenever I enter a bar. This special atmosphere with the sounds of cocktails being mixed, the barman bringing the regulars their drinks without having to be asked, the conversations between guests and the bar pianist have often led to talks with friends or strangers, or even with myself. Yes, I can hardly think of a more convenient place for engaging in conversations with myself than a bar. Of course, bars can also inspire stimulating conversations with other interlocutors, conversations which might never have taken place in another setting. The dark atmosphere of the bar at Gramercy Park Hotel in New York was an incubator for many production ideas and was also the scene of my initial conversation about Mahler with Uri Caine. At Harry's Bar in Venice with Barnaba Ferruzzi-Balbi the idea was conceived to stage a cabaret by Noël Akchoté in his Palazzo by the Canale Grande – it will hopefully soon become reality. The famous Floridita bar in Havana turned out to be an exciting communications centre for the Cuadernos de La Habana production and it was also the kickoff point for the recording of the bar music of the blind pianist Frank Emilio Flinn, who is unfortunately no longer with us. I must also think back to one evening, in the seventies, as I sat in Berlin's Kempinsky Bar after having seen a play, listening to the pianist, lost in thought, hardly aware of the conversation going on at my table. As I asked Fumio Yasuda to play the ungrateful part of the bar pianist for the Schumann's Bar Music production, I wanted to capture this unique atmosphere for an Audio Film in which one patron abandons himself fully to the pianist's music. Charles Schumann, who in the past twenty years has made Schumann's American Bar into an institution in Munich, was immediately enthusiastic about the project. Günter Mattei, a regular of Schumann's who has done the graphic artwork and has illustrated books by Schumann as well as many Winter & Winter CD booklets, brought up the idea of a recording with bar music (during a visit at Schumann's Bar, of course). The selection of pieces on the CD seems odd because the wishes of the individual guests determine the repertoire, and this is why "Das Weisse Rössel" landed up beside "Gone with the Wind". Fumio Yasuda has given himself up fully to his new part, after having personified Alexander Schiffgen at the mountain sanatorium last year (Charmed with Verdi) and having recorded before that his own work for Winter & Winter, Kakyoku (Blossom Songs), which was composed for the photo artist Nobuyoshi Araki. Fumio Yasuda's works were praised and discussed with great enthusiasm in the German dailies Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and Hamburger Abendblatt, the magazine Spiegel and the musical journal Fono Forum. His visit at Schumann's American Bar in Munich will certainly surprise many of his listeners once again. Those who want to indulge fully in Fumio Yasuda's Bar Music experience may even want to try out one of Schumann's cocktail recipes which are reproduced in the booklet.

-Stefan Winter

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