Pin It
Favorite

CD Review 

by Michael Bowen


Yoshimatsu is for the birds. His 1981 debut, Threnody to Toki (to be performed at the Met in January), lamented the loss of a rare Japanese bird. The composer's sixth Chandos CD contains two-thirds of his "Bird Trilogy": Chikap and The Age of Birds.


Yoshimatsu originally orchestrated Chikap for flutes and piccolos but rearranged it last year for mixed orchestra. His notes give a general impression: "Song not composed of (flowing) lines but of points. The birds call to one another. ... No chords, but 'harmonic clusters.'" Harp, wind chimes and celesta make appearances until, in the third section, strings surge, horns honk like geese and flutes scurry until the flock quiets down and just a solitary bird remains.


The Age of Birds, the only work here which has been previously recorded in its present form (Camerata, 1997), is a 20-minute piece in three movements marked "Sky," "Trees" and "The Sun." After the strings pulse and yearn, gongs sound, flute-birds flutter and grow discordant, then horns join in to convey the majesty of flight. Powerful and melodic, themes soar even as they're peppered with unusual accents: Even the xylophone and castanets make their appearances before one last jokey birdcall.


Centaurus Unit, a cello concerto, premiered last October in Japan, with Peter Dixon as soloist and Sachio Fujioka as conductor. (The title derives from Yoshimatsu's whimsy that the cellist and his instrument suggest a half-man, half-horse configuration. He likes his mythological creatures, too, having written a guitar concerto called Pegasus Effect and a concerto for bassoon called Unicorn Circuit.) Dedicated to Dixon, principal cellist of the BBC Philharmonic, Centaurus Unit opens with strings and a weird cry, repeated, with cymbals scraping. A jagged eight-note theme from the soloist is punctuated by a crash of reeds and elaboration of the cello's anger. After the xylophone joins a swirling horn theme, the cello returns and "moves forward randomly" in what the composer calls " a pastiche of marches, waltzes and elegies, all warped." (There are 16 different tempo markings for this one movement alone.) The second movement "begins Adagio with a dark passionate monologue played pizzicato in a manner that recalls the sound of the Japanese lute." The finale displays what have been called the "pointillist" orchestrations of the Elgar concerto -- without, of course, the earlier work's despair.


Yoshimatsu, after all, represents the "New Lyricism." He advocates for birds everywhere.





Publication date: 09/09/04
  • Pin It

Latest in Comment

  • Children Will Listen
  • Children Will Listen

    How art speaks to life in this particular moment
    • Jan 18, 2017
  • So Here We Are
  • So Here We Are

    Here's hoping the new president fills the office with the grace and sense of tradition it requires
    • Jan 18, 2017
  • Get Big Money Out
  • Get Big Money Out

    Letters to the Editor
    • Jan 18, 2017
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri
Women's March on Spokane

Women's March on Spokane @ Spokane Convention Center

Sat., Jan. 21, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Michael Bowen

Most Commented On

  • One Free Shave

    Donald Trump might have merited a honeymoon with voters had he managed his transition better
    • Dec 29, 2016
  • The Landed and the White

    How Americans followed tradition when they voted for Trump
    • Jan 12, 2017
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

Comment


Briefs


marijuana


green zone


Politics


Readers also liked…

  • To Kill the Black Snake
  • To Kill the Black Snake

    Historic all-tribes protest at Standing Rock is meant to stop the destruction of the earth for all
    • Sep 8, 2016
  • The Rachel We Knew
  • The Rachel We Knew

    EDITOR'S NOTE: How Rachel Dolezal came to write for the Inlander
    • Jun 18, 2015

© 2017 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation