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Orchestral Works

Avant Garde
upc# 6 11226 00232 9

Duration: 73 min.

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Takayoshi Yanagida

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photo: Koji Shitsukawa

   Born March 27, 1948 in Sapporo City, Hokkaido, Takayoshi Yanagida was fond of music early on, studying piano from the age of 8. He was drawn particularly to the music of Béla Bartok and Igor Stravinsky, and began composing within a few years. At Musashino Academia Musicae he studied composition under Klaus Pringsheim and at age 21 received the 1st prize in the Composition Division of the NHK/Mainichi Shinbun Music Competition of Japan. He also became the first composer to receive a rare award given to a particularly excellent composition in the same competition. Graduate studies took him to Harald Genzmer at the Munich Hochschule für Musik. During this period his association with Munich's eclectic Musik Unser Zeit and composer Wolfgang Fortner led to work in pantomime and ultimately Yanagida's self- choreographed public performances there.

   Upon returning to Japan, he became a member of the Japan Society for Contemporary Music, The Japan Federation of Composers and the International Society of Composers of Music, and has since enjoyed numerous premiers at their sponsored recitals and many published scores. Yanagida's long involvement in educational programming at the Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK) has resulted in scores for a number of videos and motion pictures. In 1993 he joined a group of colleagues in establishing the Orchestra Project, resulting in performances of many of his recent scores and an Award of Excellence at the National Art Festival sponsored by the Japanese Government's Agency for Cultural Affairs. Presently, Takayoshi Yanagida is professor of music at Bunkyo University where he teaches composition and music theory.

"Tour de force collection - Yanagida is one of the few Japanese composers brave enough to write in the lyrical, post-serial, romantic style pioneered by Toru Takemistu - expounds in striking clarity its intrinsic poetry".
-- Jack Gabel, NPM

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[ 1 ]  Libretto on a Dreamy Vision
          (solo flute & orchestra)
         Memory of Time  (orchestra)  
[ 2 ]     (Excerpt 1) LISTEN
[ 3 ]     (Excerpt 2) LISTEN
[ 4 ]     (Excerpt 3) LISTEN
[ 5 ]  A Poetic Grace  (solo 20 string koto & orchestra) LISTEN
        Elms bathed in sunshine...
            (solo piano & orchestra)
[ 6 ]     (movt. 1) LISTEN
[ 7 ]     (movt. 2) LISTEN
[ 8 ]     (movt. 3) LISTEN

Program Notes

Libretto on a Dreamy Vision (1993) - [17:00]
    Solo Flute: Hiroaki Masunaga
    The Tokyo Symphony Orchestra
    Conductor: Kazuhiko Komatsu

Memory of Time (1999) - [19:23]
    The Tokyo Symphony Orchestra
    Conductor Laureate: Kazuyoshi Akiyama

A Poetic Grace (2000) - [18:03]
    Solo 20-string Koto: Noriko Sanagi
    The Sapporo Symphony Orchestra
    Conductor: Kazuhiko Komatsu

Elms bathed in sunshine... (2001) - [18:32]
    Solo Piano: Yukine Uehara
    The Tokyo Symphony Orchestra
    Conductor Laureate: Kazuyoshi Akiyama

Libretto on a Dreamy Vision for Flute and Orchestra was written and premiered in 1993 through the Orchestra Project by flutist Hiroaki Masunaga and Kazuhiko Komatsu, conductor. Flute is Yanagida's favorite instrument and clearly dominates his catalogue. Prior to Libretto..., Aubade for Flute and String Orchestra was his best known flute score. Following no specific program, Libretto... envisions the unrolling of a pictorial scroll, reflecting mutations of an intrinsically Japanese melodic tenor, unfolding over time, within the flux of orchestral sonorities.

Memory of Time for Orchestra was also written for the Orchestra Project and premiered in its 1999 concert by The Tokyo Symphony Orchestra under Kazuyoshi Akiyama. It received the Award of Excellence during the National Art Festival, sponsored by the Japanese Government's Agency for Cultural Affairs. The work is for flute, oboe, and clarinet soloists, positioned at the center of the orchestra, not unlike a European Baroque concertino. As for the work's development from its central theme, Yanagida writes, "I wanted to adopt into my musical work an aesthetic more akin to poetic structure and sensitivity, in particular of tanka, and haiku - poetic forms both deeply reflective of Japanese artistic sentiments." First the three soloists play the theme, which is then transfigured through the orchestra, as each solo instrument joins the ensemble and their aggregate 'song' flows through time into the depths of memory.

A Poetic Grace for 20-string Koto and Orchestra was commissioned by Noriko Sanagi, of Sapporo, who premiered it in 2000 with the Sapporo Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Kazuhiko Komatsu, on a special concert: Twentieth Century Japanese Composers. In the composer's words, "I've envisioned, rather than the usual Western-style concerto that may emphasize contrast and tonal individuality, an imaginary pure realm called rikugo, hidden mysteriously within the known cosmos - a concept of ancient Chinese origin. A solo instrument, bearing the 'song,' emerges from the encompassing sonority. Again we are asked to contemplate the literary aspect: what may be the orchestral music that emanates from the tradition of Japanese prosody?"

Elms bathed in sunshine...for Piano and Orchestra was written and premiered at the 2001 Orchestra Project Concert by pianist Yukine Uehara and The Tokyo Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Kazuyoshi Akiyama. Representing a 'poem', the work consists of three movements where the circulating themes transfigure within each movement. The work presages an aesthetic turn toward structure and style more Western than in any of Yanagida's previous publications. In 2004, three years after writing Elms..., the composer published his Piano Concerto No. 2, Transfiguration of Dreams, which revealed a shift in musical perspective from essentially Asian to a more Western display of a heightened sense of freedom. In the title the 'Elms' are in Sapporo, Hokkaido Prefecture, where the composer was born. The title recollects where he passed in his youth, meditating on music while bathed in the sunlight spilling off the leaves of those elms.

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