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Tuesday, August 20, 2019
SWR VokalEnsemble, Japan, Works for Choir, Toshio Hosokawa, Toru Takemitsu, Michio Mamiya, Jo Kondo; Marcus Creed, Conductor
A wealth of possibilities for vocal ensemble are explored, all in some kind of Modern realm, though not programmatically or formulaically so. It shows us that Japanese composers, like their contemporary equivalents across the globe, can express the local as well as the universal, in song and in ensemble atmospherics, with complex tonalities and vibrant artistic outbursts, and with folk-like song expressions that hearken back while nevertheless by framing remain squarely in the present.
You who know something of the national music of Japan will recognize at least one celebrated traditional melody in arrangement for chorus. Besides that there are chant-like gatherings, floating harmonic extravagances, instrumental-like vocaleses and a kind of potpourri of possibilities that continually intrigue as one gets familiar with it all with repeated listens.
A run down of every work would perhaps overwhelm and it is better with so much and so varied a palette to let oneself be surprised and pleased within an unfolding real-time frame.
Nonetheless for your information we get to hear Toshio Hosokawa's "The Lotusflower Doth Languish," Toru Takemitsu's "Wind Horse," "Cherry Blossoms," "Wings." and "Small Sky," Michio Mamiya "Composition for Chorus No. 1," and Jo Kondo's "Motet Under the Rose."
This is music that has categorical importance, is performed with care and subtle ease, and affords a tantalizing glimpse into a local genre we at least in the "West" have gotten far less exposure to than we should.
Gladly and sincerely recommended.