Abruptly, the concert opened with J.S. Bach's Aria played on a Bösendorfer. Chihiro was not on the stage yet. Toward the end of this simple yet beautiful piece, a figure appeared on a translucent screen at the back of the stage. It was Chihiro behind the screen. As the screen was raised, she—clad in white—stepped forward. So she was a Snow White indeed. She began to sing an unknown song in English a cappella. It appeared she was in a good condition.
The next song was an unexpected one—"Cage." (I had anticipated a mostly-LAS VEGAS set list.) She sang so powerfully while rocking and swaying herself violently.
It seems to me that she made a bet on this song to fully come back. Shake me violently and tell me "You have nothing to lose any longer"—so the lyrics of this number goes. And she did shake the audience's heart violently. In fact, sobs were heard from everywhere around me. I too was not able to refrain from shedding tears of joy.
To be honest, I was not very willing to come to this concert. To find yourself at this concert hall, you have to make your way through the hustle and bustle of one of Tokyo's biggest and most crowded downtown areas and, to make things worse, it started to rain before I left home. And, most importantly, what if a ghost-like girl continues singing apathetically in a feeble voice?
Now, Chihiro blew off my groundless apprehension by singing in her proper element. Chihiro always said she wanted to overwhelm her audience with her powerful voice. And she did it this evening, as early as this point in this concert.
She went on singing one song after another without making any comment or giving a talk. An unfortunate accident occurred when, before the end of "everyhome," a few of the audience members mistakingly clapped their hands as sometimes seen when Tchaikovsky's Sixth Symphony's third movement is finished.
The next song, "Nagori-yuki," was written and sung by Kaguyahime, a J-pop group. Many people recognize it as a hit by Iruka in the 1970's. A good old song.
The cello joined the two to play "Angelina" and the rest of the strings joined to play "Bokura." How she appeared to enjoy singing "Sign" and the impassioned performance of the first violin in the Waltz are worthy of special mention.
Certainly, it was not that her performance was flawless—there was some roughness in her voices and the highest note in "Sign" did not appear to be reached. But who cares? Throughout her performance, she managed to control her voice fairly well.
The only words she spoke were, "Now, our last song. It's a new one. Please listen. 'Hotaru.'" The encores were sung by Chihiro in what looked like a black T-shirt and black sweat pants. (I wasn't able to look them closely since I was seated on the third floor.)
Undoubtedly, this is Chihiro at her best.
Piano: Haruo Togashi
First violin: Daisensei (Koichiro) Muroya
Second violin: Masahiko Todo
Viola: Shoko Miki
Cello: Tomofumi Maruyama
Orchard Hall, Shibuya, Tokyo
April 26, 2008, 6:00-7:40 p.m. (without break)
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