TAKASHI YOSHIMATSU (b. 1953)
And Birds Are Still…, Op. 72 (1997-98)
"I see a sky with transparent birds. With sad eyes they quietly look down on the human beings crawling around in an artificial forest below them." (Takashi Yoshimatsu)
Birds are an endless source of inspiration for many composers. The avian muse has feathers imbedded in the legendary origins of Gregorian chant and find nesting in Vivaldi's Four Seasons, Haydn's Bird Quartet, Mozart's Magic Flute, Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony, Mahler's First Symphony, Respighi's Birds, Stravinsky's Firebird, and Messiaen's Exotic Birds; the list is unending.
For Takashi Yoshimatsu, birds mean many things. A gateway to view with the "mindʻs eye" the wonder and erosion of the natural world. As messengers, birds give Yoshimatsu a divine mission "of searching for new wings with which to fly from the chaotic woods/world of contemporary atonal music."
Yoshimatsu describes And Birds Are Still… as "written as a short elegy for a string ensemble, this piece came from an image of birds gathered around a dead comrade. Originally, it was to be written as a commission for an amateur ensemble, but the commission was cancelled, and the work alone remained."
The 8-minute work is scored for a small string orchestra. Marked Adagio, it is "a simple piece," Yoshimatsu writes, "in the form of a short, piecemeal song that becomes a faint melody which then develops into a melancholic recollection of a memory of long ago, before blending back into its original piecemeal form, and finally fading away."
© 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.