Nodame Cantabile has done a great job at bringing classical music appreciation to an unlikely crowd: the manga-reading, anime-watching one. (Then again, anime/manga has always been an unusual yet innovative medium.)
It has done so not only through its story, the love and music of a chaotic pianist who plays everything by ear and an acrophobic, thalassophobic, arrogant musical genius who dreams of becoming a conductor.
Not only through accessible personal and academic interpretations of the music, where performers play tug-of-war with following the composer’s intent and developing their signature styles.
No, Nodame Cantabile also did it by melding old, classical, European and new, modern, Japanese musical styles into the soundtrack.
Let’s start with the opening and ending songs of the Paris Chapter. The main melody of Sky High by The Gospellers is clearly from Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto no. 3 in C Minor op. 18: III Allegro scherzando. But while Rachmaninoff’s piece is strong and dark, Sky High plays true to its name.
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard Rachmaninoff in the series. Chiaki played Piano Concerto no. 2 in the first season (Nodame too), which is probably my favorite classical piece of all time. (Rachmaninoff is the rock!)
Meanwhile, Tokyo et Paris by Emiri Miyamoto x solita has echoes of Maurice Ravel’s Boléro in it, although in smaller amounts compared to Sky High. Considering Bolero’s tune is so famous, the differentness of Tokyo et Paris is an accomplishment. Boléro is also shaping up to be a key performance piece for Chiaki just as the second piano concerto was in the first season.
Remembering Season 1
Songs from the first season are also notable for choosing “classical” instruments like the piano, violin, and other orchestral instruments while maintaining that J-Pop vibe: Allegro Cantabile and Sagittarius by Suemitsu and the Suemith are energetic piano-rock pieces while Konna ni Chikaku de by Crystal Kay is all about strings and soulful vocals.
More Nodame love!
As if the manga, 2 anime seasons, live-action season, and live-action special weren’t enough, it looks like 2 more Nodame Cantabile movies are in the works! This franchise continues to surprise, impress, and deliver.
If you haven’t started following Nodame Cantabile yet, pick at least one incarnation, and soon you’ll admire the classical and Japanese music this series has to offer.