ECM’s ongoing series of recordings with the Munich Chamber Orchestra continues with an intriguing album of new and recent pieces by Japanese composer Toshio Hosokawa. Amongst the featured compositions are “Sakura für Otto Tomek” and “Cloud and Light”, both written in 2008, and “Ceremonial Dance”, written in 2000. These 21st century pieces are brought together with “Landscape V” (originally from 1993 and for string quartet, and subsequently expanded into an orchestral version). Mayumi Miyata, perhaps contemporary music’s best-known shô player, is heard here with the MKO in a recording made at Munich’s Himmelfahrtskirche (Church of the Ascension) in October 2009.
Paul Griffiths describes the internal processes of Hosokawa’s music in the liner notes: “The interplay of shô and strings, and in particular their mutual imitation, is the driving force – or perhaps one should say ‘drifting force’, given that the music carries itself so lightly.
These two central components moving in tandem suggest the confluence of vapour and light of which clouds are made. (…) Almost everything is centred in the shô and its world of far-off harmonies, soft yet scintillating – harmonies as impalpable and ever-changing as clouds. Like clouds, Hosokawa’s music is constantly in motion yet constantly the same. As the piece continues, its effect is of observing clouds in a largely peaceful sky, clouds that are mostly white but occasionally show shadows and briefly stir into more turbulent action.”
Landscapes is ECM’s second reckoning with Hosowaka: his music was previously featured on the critically acclaimed Yun/Bach/Hosokawa album of Thomas Demenga (ECM 1782), issued a decade ago. Since then, the composer’s music has been heard with increasing frequency in Europe. In July of this year, Hosakawa’s opera “Matsukaze”, with choreography by Sascha Waltz, was premiered at the Berlin Staatsoper and received much positive media attention including a full page in the NY Times.