Ryuichi Sakamoto RFH, London
Within a couple of years, I'm assured by the technical staff behind the link-up at the Festival Hall, CD-quality sound and live pictures will be part of the package; and at that point, concert-going might well be revolutionised. At the moment, though, while the sound quality is not bad, it isn't spectacularly good; and the peripheral bits of the broadcast are unimpressive. Running down one side of the computer screen is a series of labels - "Biography", "Discography", "Chronography" - which you can click on to get supplementary information about Ryuichi Sakamoto's life and music: "Discography" gives you a complete run-down of all his recordings, from the earliest days with the Yellow Magic Orchestra; "Chronography" gives you the highlights of Sakamoto's life in date order (born 1952, began studying composition at Tokyo University of the Arts 1963, soundtrack for Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence 1983); "Biography" gives you the same information, but more discursively.
The best bit is the pictures: a series of eight or nine photographs taken earlier in the day showing the outside of the hall ("A beautiful day in London..." reads one label; "...in the distance we see Big Ben," adds the next) and Sakamoto and his musicians preparing for the concert ("Although it's only a rehearsal, the passion is still evident in Ryuichi's playing"). It's unfortunate that every time you try to access a picture or a bit of text, you lose the sound. Given this, you wonder whether all these extras are really necessary. A man from Mitsubishi, who are organising the broadcast, explains that they are there to stop people getting bored. Can this really be more interesting than the music?
Sitting in the Festival Hall itself, the answer seems to be "Possibly". The computer material makes great play of Sakamoto's eclecticism - he's said to be interested in jazz, bossa nova, modern classical, dub and gamelan - but here, at the last concert in the European leg of his TRIO world tour, it's hard not to be aware of how much his music borrows from other composers: a bit of Philip Glass here, a touch of Satie there; but try and imagine Glass re-writing the theme for Love Story or Satie's Warsaw Concerto. For this tour, Sakamoto has adopted a traditional piano trio format - himself on piano, with a cellist and a violinist - and reduced to these essentials, his music seems melodically and harmonically banal, the echoes of other composers reading more like gestures towards the modern rather than a fully integrated part of his language. Here too, the cutting- edge seems like something you could safely leave small children to play with.
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Planes go hybrid-electric in important step to greener flight
- 2 Antonio Martin shooting: Police and protesters clash over teenager's death just five miles from Ferguson, Missouri
- 3 Northern Lights above Britain: Stunning Aurora Borealis illuminates Northumberland sky on Christmas Eve
- 4 British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
- 5 New route to Mars could make manned mission much cheaper and easier
Christmas Day TV guide 2014: What to watch from Strictly Come Dancing to the story of Frozen
Cruel Woman in Black prank sees cinema-goers terrified by movie poster - watch their reactions
Best underrated Christmas movies: From Trading Places to While You Were Sleeping
Game of Thrones season five: First preview clip shows a beardy Tyrion, a moody Cersei and a distressed Arya
Christmas TV guide 2014: The best shows to watch from Doctor Who to Downton Abbey
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food