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TAKASHI YOSHIMATSU (b. 1953)

Atom Hearts Club Suite No. 1, Op. 70b (1997/2000)

I. Allegro molto – Coda

II. Andante

III. Scherzo. Allegro scherzando – Coda

IV. Finale. Allegro molto – Andante – Coda presto

Takashi Yoshimatsu (b. 1953), born in Tokyo, studied at Keio University's Department of Technology. Withdrawing from a career in engineering, he joined a jazz and rock band, began teaching himself composition, and briefly studied with composer and poet Teizo Matsumura (1929-2007). Yoshimatsu's music draws from a wide range of musical influences. Fusing classical and pop genres, his music speaks with Tchaikovsky's melodic lyricism, the harmonic richness and rhythmic energy of jazz and rock, and the trance-like drive of minimalism. Ultra-modernism was in vogue during the 1970s concert music scene. Yoshimatsu became disillusioned with the atonal fashions and rallied against "unmusical modern music." He is a self-described new-lyricist, a neo-romantic. 

 

The composer debuted publicly in 1981 with Threnody to Toki, Op. 12 for string orchestra and piano. The lamenting work of the disappearing and internationally protected bird species (Toki only inhabits Japan and parts of China) is a hallmark of the composer's views and philosophy. He describes, "the piece is not just a lament for the perishing bird, it is also a hymn of praise for the revival of these beautiful creatures and the revival of tonality."  

 

Yoshimatsu's affection for birds is ubiquitous across his prolific catalog of six symphonies, ten concertos, stage works, orchestral, chamber and solo music, works for traditional Japanese instruments, and music for film and television including the 2003 anime series Astro Boy and the NHK historical taiga drama Taira no Kiyomori. Since 1998, he has been composer-in-residence for the Chandos record label, where 14 releases include his music. In addition to composing, Yoshimatsu is a prolific writer, authoring music reviews, essays, books, and an extensive personal blog.

 

Atom Hearts Club Suite No. 1, Op. 70b, comes from a series of works that carry the title Atom Hearts Club, pieces in homage to Pink Floyd, the Beatles, and Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Suite No. 1 is scored for a string orchestra and runs 10 minutes. The composer's original program notes are included as follows:

 

"The full name of this work is really 'Dr. Tarkus's Atom Hearts Club Suite.' The suite combines elements from four sources: The Beatles' masterpiece Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, which draws on all kinds of music, from classic to rock; Emerson, Lake and Palmer's Tarkus, a great progressive-rock work of the 1970s; Pink Floyd's Atom Heart Mother; and Fragile by Yes. These have then been shaken using the 100,000 horsepower of Osamu Tezuka's comic-book hero Mighty Atom (a.k.a. Astro Boy). There are four movements: the first is a progressive-rockstyle Allegro molto in irregular time, the second a mysterious Andante in ballad style, the third a paramour's Scherzo, while the fourth rounds the suite off in slapstick boogie-woogie style. 

 

The piece originated as the 'Atom Hearts Club Quartet', composed in the summer of 1997 to fulfill a commission from the Morgaua Quartet for a work in the progressive-rock style of the 1970s. In 1999 it was rearranged as a suite for string orchestra."

© Notes by Michael-Thomas Foumai

ABOUT THIS PERFORMANCE (MASTERWORKS 8):

Enter the animated, pastoral, and psychedelic world of birds, angels, and toys in the music of prolific Japanese composer Takashi Yoshimatsu. Maestro Keitaro Harada returns to lead your Hawaiʻi Symphony Orchestra in the final indoor Masterworks concert of the season, including Yoshimatsu’s homage to rock, Atom Hearts Club Suite No. 1, the celestial Symphony No. 6 “Birds and Angels,” and the U.S. premiere of Ukrainian composer Nikolai Kapustin’s jazz-fueled Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra with Todd Yukumoto.