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Hosokawa: Landscapes / Miyata, Liebreich, Munich Chamber Orchestra


Release Date: 10/24/2011 
Label:  Ecm   Catalog #: 001607302  
Composer:  Toshio Hosokawa
Conductor:  Alexander Liebreich
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Chamber Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



HOSOKAWA Landscape V. Ceremonial Dance. Sakura für Otto Tomek. Cloud and Light Alexander Liebereich, cond; Munich CO; Mayumi Miyata (shô) ECM B0016073-02 (55: 51)


Toshio Hosokawa (b.1955) has lived for a long time in Germany (it began with studies with the Korean composer Isang Yun, one of the great teachers of Asian composers in the West, comparable in his effect to that of Chou Wen-Chung in the U.S.). His work remains, however, closely tied to Japanese tradition and aesthetics. All but three Read more of these pieces use the shô , a bamboo mouth organ that is capable of producing shifting blankets of harmonies, changing one note at a time at the performer’s discretion. It has ancient roots in gagaku , the imperial court orchestral music, and even earlier in the Chinese sheng , its larger ancestor. It has an ethereal, haunting quality, like a soft, slow-moving piccolo accordion.


Hosokawa uses the shô in a quasi-traditional way through most of these works; there is little fast, notey virtuosity here. That is reserved for the large ensembles [strings only in Landscape V (1993), full orchestra in Cloud and Light (2008)]. Drifting clouds of sound become increasing animated on a microscopic level, often to erupt into expressionist storms. Ceremonial Dance (2000), the only piece not including shô , is by far the most active, and frankly sounds a little more generic to me. The other three strike a balance between the sublimely placid and emotionally turbulent.


The effect is a little like hearing a single hour-long work in four movements, and that impression feels justified by the material and its duration. Cloud and Light is in two movements; at the suddenly violent opening of the second, it almost seems as though the shô has been lost in the storm, but it comes back to lead the music to a serene conclusion. The use of light tinkling bells at the beginning and end of the piece is also evocative, with a sweet conflict of tuning that makes it even more memorable.


The shô is a very interesting instrument to have as a soloist. It registers its presence by … well, being a presence. In other words, it’s almost subliminal in most of the music, yet somehow essential (a nice sort of Zen paradox). One might think of it like a ghost, real but not quite visible. Of course in Sakura für Otto Tomek (2008), the one solo work, it gets to strut its stuff, but even then the substance is in the details, not big gestures.


Overall, strong and unusual music, at least to many Western ears. Performances are wonderful, and ECM’s sound lush, at times verging on the threshold of excess, but I still buy it.


FANFARE: Robert Carl
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Works on This Recording

1. Landscape no 5 by Toshio Hosokawa
Conductor:  Alexander Liebreich
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1993 
Date of Recording: 10/2009 
2. Ceremonial Dance by Toshio Hosokawa
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Chamber Orchestra
Period: 21st Century 
Written: 2000 
Date of Recording: 10/2009 
3. Sakura für Otto Tomek by Toshio Hosokawa
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Chamber Orchestra
Period: 21st Century 
Written: 2008 
Date of Recording: 10/2009 
4. Cloud And Light by Toshio Hosokawa
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Chamber Orchestra
Period: 21st Century 
Written: 2008 
Date of Recording: 10/2009 

Sound Samples

Landscape V
Ceremonial Dance
Sakura für Otto Tomek
Cloud And Light

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