Toshio Hosokawa: Solo Concertos, Vol. 1


1 CD

Κλασική Μουσική


7 Απρίλιος 2021Ερώτηση για το προϊόν



Toshio Hosokawa

Flute Concerto ‘Per-Sonare’

Landscape III for violin & orchestra

Piano Concerto, “Ans Meer”

Αναλυτική Παρουσίαση

Toshio Hosokawa

Landscape III for violin & orchestra

Irvine Arditti (Violin), Deutsches Symphony Orchester BerlinRobert HP Platz (Conductor)

Toshio Hosokawa

Flute Concerto ‘Per-Sonare’

Gunhild Ott (Flute), SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden und FreiburgRobert HP Platz (Conductor)

Toshio Hosokawa

Piano Concerto, “Ans Meer”

Bernhard Wambach (Piano), North German Radio Philharmonic OrchestraRobert HP Platz (Conductor)

Music has to be noble

“Music has to be noble” – Toshio Hosokawa once chose this creed in private conversation in order to distinguish himself from the aesthetics of other composers. To me, this phrase seems to be an apt description of Hosokawa’s music, since he draws its inherent nobility from a thoroughly noble source: “gagaku”, the music of the Japanese imperial court. We are not saying that the composer was familiar with these sounds from childhood.

On the contrary, Hosokawa assures us that it was only at an advanced stage of his studies – during his postgraduate work with Isang Yun in Berlin – that he came into contact with gagaku. Only through this alien influence did he find his own roots so to speak. The classical music of Japan did indeed eke out a niche existence in its own country, as purely functional music at temple festivals or wedding ceremonies. It was a ceremonial music that initially had to go abroad to find its path beyond the specific occasion. For too long it was not even permitted to find that path, since as imperial court music it was intended only for the emperor’s ears and was hidden behind thick palace walls from ordinary people.

The elements that Hosokawa took over from gagaku for his own music include not only a characteristic style almost entirely ceremonial in bearing, but also individual rhythmic forms such as the accelerando derived from listening to the “kakko” drum, and the generally heterophonic structure of the composer’s own tonal language the effect of which leads to extended harmonic areas being “filled out” individually by various voices in the orchestra. Alternatively, each instrument spins its own thread, using a limited supply of tones available to all the players. If homophony is represented by a vertical scale, and polyphony by a horizontal one, then Hosokawa’s heterophonic approach can be represented by a scale that is diagonal.

This is the manner that allows Hosokawa to produce in his sound-scapes – which lack any real development – a surprising diversity that can be traced back to extremely simple procedures. His ability to make a lot out of a little betrays, on the one hand, Hosokawa’s mastery of Western compositional techniques and, on the other hand, his roots in the Japanese culture of simplicity, of purity, even of poverty.

One example: If the three upper and lower notes of a six-note chord change places just once by being shifted an octave in opposite directions, this very simple step produces a completely new state of tension, and an entirely new harmonic field inhabited by the instruments becomes audible. These new excursions into the realm of timbral values and unsuspected variety and musical richness make it clear that this music does not want anything, does not “pursue” anything; it wants nothing other than itself. It is content in itself, in its beauty. And – yes, it is noble.

It is no coincidence that the Flute Concerto Per-Sonare (1988) was Hosokawa’s first composition for a solo instrument and orchestra; of all the European instruments, the flute is, after all, the one most immediately comparable to its Japanese pedant. The sound of the “shakuhachi” (bamboo flute) was the inspiration for the way this music was conceived, admitting as it does many fractured, often noise-like sounds, ones in which the sound of the instrument and the noise of breathing fuse, are interpenetrated as it were: “per-sonare”.

Hosokawa understands too how the orchestra and its sound may be cultivated like a landscape. The sound wanders through the room; two orchestral groups, labelled “Echo I” and “Echo II”, are located “very far apart” to the left and right behind the audience and are also heard far left and right in the sound panorama of the present recording.

The idea of sound as landscape provided the title for his Violin Concerto from 1993: Landscape III, part of a cycle of compositions for various scorings. The score was dedicated to Irvine Arditti and if one listens to his recording in the immediate context of the other works on this CD, the simplicity of techniques discussed above is self-evident; it also becomes clear just how different are the solutions that the composer manages to arrive at, couched as they are in such simplicity.

What becomes evident is that everything has been reduced to just two different ambient gestures: first, a horizontal/diagonal continuum (see above) occurring usually at a low dynamic level; and secondly, vigorous, loud, and sharply contoured vertical caesura that stand like steep blocks of rock in an otherwise gentle landscape. Hosokawa had previously studied the interaction of these sonic gestures in a separate series of chamber music pieces: his Vertical Time Studies.

The Piano Concerto Ans Meer (To the sea) was written in 1999 on the occasion of the Duisburg Music Prize, Hosokawa dedicating the work to the pianist Bernhard Wambach. In a revision of an earlier work – the Concerto for Saxophone and Orchestra – the composer united the gestures discussed here with the pianistic techniques common to the instrument’s repertoire. The filigree and the sharply contoured chords are thus not only juxtaposed within a much larger structure but, importantly, are also fused into ever-changing sonic apparel given to the solo instrument.

Robert HP Platz