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Zen-On Publishes Four New Publications by Kenji Sakai, Akira Nishimura, and Toshiro Mayuzumi

Jun. 01, 2021

Zen-On Publishes Four New Publications by Kenji Sakai, Akira Nishimura, and Toshiro Mayuzumi

On June 15, Zen-On will release four new publications by composers Kenji Sakai, Akira Nishimura, and Toshiro Mayuzumi

Kenji Sakai's VISIONS – d’après Gabriele D’Annunzio (2019) was commissioned by the Nagoya Philharmonic Orchestra and premiered by the group with countertenor Daichi Fujiki under the direction of Sylvain Cambreling at the Aichi Prefectural Art Theater Concert Hall in Nagoya. The composer notes: 

"A song with orchestra VISIONS- d’après Gabriele D’Annunzio consists of three movements. D’Annunzio is an Italian poet. His period of activity was in the same period of the flowering of Symbolism in France and he collaborated with contemporary composer, Claude Debussy for whom he dedicated a poem. D’Annunzio’s poetry composition is full of human strength of mind colored by a beautiful imagination. For this piece, I selected three poems whose descriptions of nature and mind are intimately intertwined with each other: "L’alba sepàra dalla luce l’ombra" for the first movement, "La pioggia nel pineto" for the second movement, and "Il vento scrive" for the third movement. The text of the first movement is the same of Tosti’s song which all vocalists would certainly sing in their study process. Unlike the bright feeling of Tosti’s song, a motif that comes and goes between D and F played by the English horn at the beginning of the movement represents a boundary of light and dark, which is a metaphor of death and makes this song serious. In the second movement, against a backdrop of continuous step-like passages which are reminiscent of soft rain, played by the wind instruments, the vocalist calmly sings visionary texts in a syllabic way. And in the middle part where the focus shifts to the human mind from beautiful depictions of nature, melodies gradually disappear and are transformed into a narrative. In the third movement which has a relatively short text, melodies are sung in a melismatic way compared to the previous movement. A motif that symbolizes the wind is played by the flute at the beginning. The motifs of rain and a boundary between light and dark, which appeared in the previous two movements, are used again for the last strophe, and at the same time, end this work of song.

Additionally, Two Mélodies d’après Gabriele D’Annunzioarrangements of the first and third movements of VISIONS- d’après Gabriele D’Annunzio for voice and piano, will also be published this month. Kenji Sakai notes:

"Two Mélodies d’après Gabriele D’Annunzio are arrangements of the first and third movements of VISIONS- d’après Gabriele D’Annunzio for countertenor and orchestral accompaniment; the orchestra part  is arranged for the piano. Since the original second movement which is assumed to be sung by countertenor is omitted, Two Mélodies can be sung by a female alto.To arrange the accompaniment for the piano, I intended to make it pianistic. As a result, accompaniment motifs became more entwined with vocal melodies than in the original work. The syllabic phrasing of "L’alba sepàra dalla luce l’ombra" and the melismatic phrasing of "Il vento scrive" form a pair. Visionary texts are musically colored by the motifs which depict nature and the human mind such as wind, rain, and a boundary of light and dark."

Two Mélodies d’après Gabriele D’Annunzio was premiered on July 18, 2020 at the Biwako Hall Center for the Performing Arts in Shiga, Japan by countertenor Daichi Fujiki and pianist Masanori Kato.

The score of Akira Nishimura's Concerto for Liquid Orchestra (2016) will also be published on June 15. Concerto for Liquid Orchestra was commissioned by Ichiro Nodaira and premiered by the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Yoichi Sugiyama at Suntory Hall in Tokyo on October 28, 2016. The composer notes:

"This work was commissioned by and is dedicated to lchiro Nodaira.

The title of the work is intended to liken the orchestra to a liquid entity. In this sense the orchestra is conceived as a kind of watery acoustic universe characterized by silence, tranquillity, dynamism, rigidity and flexibility. This watery acoustic universe might be thought of as a single drop of water, as amniotic fluid, or as the primeval infinite milky sea of Hindu myth. The acoustic and melodic forms that emerge as life forms within this universe all come into being and move around within this watery environment, which includes non-gravitational curved sounds, distorted wave sounds and underwater undulating afterimages.

The piece consists of three movements played in succession. The first movement (I) represents the appearance of a liquid sonic cosmos and is conceived as a fluid body based on the male principle. The second movement (II) is a mystical floating phase rooted in the female principle or the womb. The third movement (III), through the fusion of I and II, heightens presentiment of the emergence of new life followed by its dissolution and sublimated extinction.

The sense of orchestral sound assuming a liquid texture is something that I have felt vividly for a long time when composing in a heterophonic manner. In this work, I have attempted to expand on this by viewing orchestral music as such as a kind of liquid formation. In terms of my compositional instincts, I feel that I have stepped into a previously unexplored zone in this work. Since the work is dedicated to Ichiro Nodaira, a creative artist for whom I feel great affection and respect, my aim has also been to create a challenging work that offers a manifestation of my own ideas."

Parts for this work are on rental.

The final publication to be released this month is the score of Toshiro Mayuzumi's SPHÉNOGRAMMES (1950). The work was premiered in 1950 and broadcast on NHK Radio. Parts for this work are on rental.

"Sphénogrammes" means "cuneiform". The work was completed in Yokohama in June 1950 and was broadcast on NHK Radio on July 9, 1950.  It was selected as a winning work at the 25th ISCM International Contemporary Music Festival (Frankfurt, 1951), and brought worldwide attention to Toshiro Mayuzumi's music.

In SPHÉNOGRAMMES, Toshiro Mayuzumi combines admiration for southern lands, for the gamelan and kecak, a fusion of Southeast Asian sound materials and folk songs, jazz, contemporary music, Stravinsky, Ravel, and more. This work is a special composition for female voice and flute, violin, cello, saxophone, marimba, and piano four hands, and is comprised of five movements: "prologue", "Java song", “slendro”, "possessed cobra 'bee-bop'", and "Indian liturgical".  It is composed of musical tunes and is pierced by ostinato rhythm and folk colors. 

To learn more about Kenji Sakai, Akira Nishimura, and Toshiro Mayuzumi, visit:

Kenji Sakai
VISIONS – d’après Gabriele D’Annunzio (2019) 
for countertenor and orchestra
3(2.pic, c-ten

Two Mélodies d’après Gabriele D’Annunzio (2019/2020)
for countertenor (or alto) and piano

Akira Nishimura
Concerto for Liquid Orchestra (2016)

Toshiro Mayuzumi
fl(pic) voice