Distance and Rest, from Japan to the West

Toshio Hosokawa’s music — like his countryman Toru Takemitsu before him — fixates on Japanese gesture, but filters Western tensions of form and language, for a potent mix. Glacial time and timbre derived from Noh meet the opacity of haiku on the music’s curving surfaces, whilst Ligeti and Lindberg bubble in the background, thrusting forward at the most unexpected of moments. Meaning is elusive in Hosokawa, as it is in Basho; both are content to state, but not pierce, the syntax of their thoughts. In Hosokawa, though, the ellipses turn just a little, and proffer at least a little art.

Like Hosokawa, Mozart is always supple in his forms and his gestures, always surprising, never rote (or, at least, rote to the point you begin to doubt, and then cunning in revolt). The two, along with youthful Beethoven in a charming mood, made for compelling bedfellows in the concert of wind music I heard this evening at the Royal Brussels Conservatory. Performers were the confident and charged Bläserensemble Sabine Meyer, who, refreshingly, always make a point of commissioning or sourcing new works for wind ensemble, alongside exculpations of long forgotten music from the dusty drawers of composers past. Go here for my full review.


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