Sunday, August 7, 2011

matsukaze postgame

"Haunting Unpredictability" -- on Toshio Hosokawa's Matsukaze

This was my second article for the Times and my first written in my then home, Berlin (I'm in Carrboro, NC for the next five years or so -- more on that soon!). I should just say that it was a fantastic experience. I was lucky enough to get an unofficial recording from Mr. Hosokawa, and I really cannot stop listening to the piece -- I would wager it is one of the best opera scores of this century. I'm very grateful to all those I interviewed -- Mr. Hosokawa himself, Barbara Hannigan (simply amazing), choreographer Sasha Waltz, dramaturge Ilka Seifert, stage designer Pia Maier Schriever, and Pablo Heras-Casado. Heras-Casado, who led all the performances in all four cities (with four different orchestras! not an easy feat), is conducting ICE in Mostly Mozart on Monday -- he is the real deal, and conducted a spectacular Brahms Double Concerto at Caramoor recently. Go if you're in town.

If you're interested in exploring Noh further, I would recommend Eric Rath's The Ethos of Noh , an in-depth, revisionist history of the form. You can read an English translation of Matsukaze the play here (Hannah Dubgen's libretto is a poetic but fidelitous rendition); oddly enough, of all people, the legendary Paul Griffiths writes his own interpretations of Noh plays--Tomoakira is his latest. Many thanks to Ken Ueno for suggesting preparatory reading, including Takemitsu's must-own Confronting Silence (Peter Burt's Takemitsu biography was also helpful). As far as secondary literature goes for Hosokawa, there's not much -- you can read an interesting lecture he gave in German here.

I hope someone's making a Matsukaze recording (I'm also hoping that someone's considering bringing the Sasha Waltz production Stateside); in the meantime, here's Schott's discography. The Berlin Phil recently premiered his Horn Concerto, which I saw but did not review -- it was great, and you can see it on their Digital Concert Hall (watch the whole concert, it's got some killer Schubert). This, too, is a fine piece:

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