About this Recording
8.573276 - HOSOKAWA, Toshio: Orchestral Works, Vol. 2 - Woven Dreams / Blossoming II / Circulating Ocean (Märkl)

Toshio Hosokawa (b. 1955)
Woven Dreams • Blossoming II • Circulating Ocean


Woven Dreams was commissioned by Roche for the Lucerne Festival and Carnegie Hall, and composed from July to December 2009. I dedicate this work to Michael Haefliger, the artistic and executive director of the Lucerne Festival.

I once had a dream that I was in my mother’s womb. In the dream I experienced these things: the joy of being in the warm womb, pressure and obsession that I must be born before long, and the joy of coming into the world through the suffering and pain of the process of birth. These are deep experiences that will stay in my mind for all time. The dream was the experience touching human primordial affections that are deeper than those in my everyday life. Once I composed a work based on the dream entitled Drawing for eight players. This time I have tried to make it into music again with the bigger instrumentation of an orchestra. In this orchestral work some musical elements of Drawing are used again: going back to the experiences in the dream, and reweaving the memory of the dream with music.

This work begins with a long note in B flat. When I composed the work, I started to listen to this single tone deeply. Over time I burrowed deeply into this single note and became unified with it, like a foetus is unified with its mother in the amniotic fluid. I wanted to realize the sound heard in the womb by means of the orchestra. From this single note a simple melody is born, which is played like a canon with multiple instrumental parts. (This is a technique called Oibuki used in the Japanese court music, Gagaku.) The single note divides into multiple notes which accumulate at two extremes woven of yin and yang.

In this work there are many influences from the musical language of Gagaku, the ancient Japanese court music that is the womb of my music.

Following the UK première of my Horn Concerto – Moment of Blossoming by Stefan Dohr and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra under Sir Simon Rattle at the Barbican, London on 22 February 2011, I was introduced by Rattle to Robin Ticciati. Robin was so impressed with this horn concerto that he commissioned me to compose Blossoming II for the Edinburgh International Festival. The work is dedicated to its first performers, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and their Principal Conductor Robin Ticciati. While it is an arrangement for chamber orchestra of Blossoming for string quartet, it is not an exact arrangement of the original work, and many parts have been rewritten.

I have composed many works on the theme of “Blossoming”. To express musically the energy of a flower’s blossoming carries deep meaning. I perceive music as plant-like development and growth, and I wish to continue composing music with a different viewpoint from that of European composers, who construct music architecturally. It is a special feature of this series that at the beginning of the piece there is one long sustained note in the middle register out of which develops the mother’s body from which is born a song (a fragment of melody) as the flower. This sustained note symbolizes the surface of a pond, and what is lower than the note symbolizes under the water, while what is higher symbolizes the world above the water. Then this note which is the flower grows from the womb of harmony lying dormant deep beneath the surface, and continues to rise toward the surface. The inspiration for this series came from my reading a book on Buddhism about how the lotus blossom comes into flower.

I have also given this Blossoming another meaning. In a lecture by the first master of modern Japanese literature, Natsume Soseki (1867–1916), on the theme of “The Westernization of Present-Day Japan,” Soseki severely criticizes the fact that the Japan of those days, abruptly encountering western civilization, accepted it (a superficial blossoming) rather than let it slowly mature in its own internal world. Even today when more than a hundred years have passed since Soseki’s time, we Japanese, rather than reflecting on our own roots and creating our own culture from those roots, maintain an interest only in culture coming from outside, and have become engrossed in pursuing western civilization as if, were we not to adopt it, we would fall behind the times, and have forgotten our own point of departure. In creating my own music, I wish to base it firmly once more on my own musical and cultural roots, and from there to let it blossom internally.

Circulating Ocean was commissioned by the Salzburg Festival, composed in early 2005, and is dedicated to Peter Ruzicka. It received its world première at the Festival on 20 and 21 August 2005 with the Vienna Philharmonic, conducted by Valery Gergiev.

For some years I have been writing, and will continue to write, works on the theme of “Ocean”. I am attempting to express in sound the flow and change of water by apprehending sound as water. The ocean is for me the birthplace of life, a being possessed of infinite depth and expanse. The waves rolling in and withdrawing can be felt as “the voice from eternity”. Water evaporates from the ocean and rises to the sky, becoming clouds. The clouds eventually turn into rain, and pour down again to the ocean. They then become a storm, and the ocean rages. In time the storm abates and the ocean regains a deep silence. Then the water, once again becoming a fog, ascends from the ocean to the sky. This image became the basis of the music. I also take the tracks of the circulating water as the human life cycle. Born from a vast limitless being, we ascend toward the heights, eventually begin our descent, experience violent storms and return again to an ocean of deep silence. Then once again, life rises to the sky. I wanted to express the tracks of this circulating life in music.

The orchestra can be seen as the traditional Japanese shô, a kind of mouth organ. The shô player produces sound by breathing in and out. The sound cast outward from the player by his breathing out comes back to him by his breathing in. This repetition produces time in the form of a circle. The wave motion of the ocean is a wave motion of sound that surges in toward and out from the audience in crescendo and decrescendo. The wave motion, expressed by the various instrumental sections, folds over again and again. After experiencing the storm, the ocean regains a deep stillness, and the water once again becomes vapour and ascends to the sky. As the ocean disappears into the unresolved nebulousness of the deep fog, we are made to feel a premonition of life’s return.

Toshio Hosokawa

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