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2015/11/02

Work of the Week – Toshio Hosokawa: Nach dem Sturm

 

On November 2015, the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra will present the world premiere of Toshio Hosokawa’s Nach dem Sturm (“After the Tempest”), coinciding with both the orchestra’s 50th anniversary and the composer’s 60th birthday. Kazushi Ono will conduct at Tokyo’s Suntory Hall, with Susanne Elmark and Ilse Eerens singing the two soprano roles.

Hosokawa’s earlier Neben dem Fluss (“Next to the River”) for harp and his trumpet concerto Im Nebel (“In the Mist”) took their inspiration from poems by Hermann Hesse, but Nach dem Sturm is the first work in which the composer has set Hesse’s words directly to music. The text in question is “Blumen nach einem Unwetter” (“Flowers after a Storm”), for which Hesse painted an accompanying watercolour. Hosokawa uses the poem for the second part of the 20-minute work; this is preceded by a violent storm, using the full force of a large orchestra and an extensive battery of Japanese percussion. Nach dem Sturm is one of several of works that Hosokawa has written in response to the devastating Tohoku Earthquake of 2011. He explains:

For me, musical expression used to be a method to find harmony between human and nature; however, since the Tohoku earthquake in 2011, I began to reconsider the role of music. Music is a type of Shamanism; people pray by music, and calm the spirit of the deceased, creating a bridge between this world and afterlife. The two sopranos represent Mikos [shrine maidens] in this piece. The first half of the music is an expression of a storm using only the orchestra. In the second half, the two sopranos sing Hermann Hesse’s poem, a depiction of a flower gradually finding light again in the aftermath of a storm. – Toshio Hosokawa

Later this month, the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra will tour Europe, bringing Nach dem Sturm to Luxembourg on 17 November and Berlin on 19 November.