RYUICHI SAKAMOTO at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre (190 Princes’ Blvd), Sunday (October 24), 7 pm, all ages. $37.50. TM.
When Ryuichi Sakamoto visits Toronto this weekend, contemporary-piano-composition aficionados will have the chance to see a master play along with himself.
The show features the Oscar-winning Japanese musician onstage with two pianos, one programmed to duet with him on certain pieces.
If he had it his way, there would be a few more keyboards up there, allowing him to play with even greater fidelity to the songs on his latest album, Playing The Piano.
"But obviously I cannot bring nine pianos on the tour," he says from the Decca label's office in New York.
A spirit of innovation, a strong appreciation for melody and a minimalist's sense of restraint have guided Sakamoto through three decades of a diverse, prolific career.
He's put out almost 40 albums, composed dozens of film scores, made early strides into electro-pop with his band Yellow Magic Orchestra, appeared alongside Madonna in her Rain video and acted opposite David Bowie in the Japanese film Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence.
Sakamoto hasn't maintained a friendship with either the Material Girl or Ziggy Stardust.
"I'm sure they're both living in some part of Manhattan, but it's not easy to reach them," he says.
He's still buddies with famed director Takeshi Kitano, who also starred with him in Merry Christmas, but doesn't enjoy the spectacle brought on by their occasional hang-outs in Tokyo.
"He's like a king," he says. "It's a big deal if we go out somewhere. I don't want to do that."
When not touring, writing and recording (he'll start making his next album in Cambodia with German visual artist/composer Carsten Nicolai, aka Alva Noto, early next year), Sakamoto enjoys a secluded life in Manhattan, where he doesn't venture too far beyond his own block.
But he does draw a romantic sort of inspiration from the city, where conversations on the street, even natural sounds, inform his work.
"It was raining this morning in New York, and I was struck by the sound. So I recorded it with my little recorder because it was very beautiful. I don't know where, but I'm sure I'll use it in my music somehow."