Hosokawa: Drei Engel-Lieder "Three Angel Songs"

Program Note

In 2012, the Concertgebouw Brugge commissioned a mural from painter Luc Tuymans which he called “Angel”. The mural was created in an atrium-like side corridor of the hall, referred to as “the cathedral” by its architect and redubbed “the Angel Room” after the mural’s completion. Following in the footsteps of Morton Feldman’s Rothko Chapel, written for a meditation room in Texas which contains fourteen paintings by Mark Rothko, the Concertgebouw commissioned several works to exploit the ethereal acoustics of the lofty space. Hosokawa’s Drei Engel-Lieder was the first piece written for the Angel Room, penned during the composer’s 2014 residency at the hall. He includes this note with the work:

“Angels exist between this world and a world beyond this world that cannot be seen. They are the messengers who let us see a glimpse of the other world. In recent years, I have become interested in shamanism and have composed music where the musicians assume the role of shamans who let us see the world beyond this world through the use of sound. In this work, the soprano plays the role of both an angel and a shaman (miko). The texts I’ve chosen are by a Jewish German poet, Else Lasker-Schüler, and a Jewish philosopher and critic of religion, Gershom Scholem.”

—Toshio Hosokawa

Toshio Hosokawa studied piano, harmony, and counterpoint in Japan before becoming a pupil of Isang Yun at the Hochschule der Künste in Berlin. In 1986, he completed his training at the Hochschule für Musik in Fribourg in Brisgau with Klaus Huber and Brian Ferneyhough. The founder, in 1989, of a contemporary music festival in Akiyoshidai, Japan, he was then appointed composer in residence with the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra and director of the International Music Festival in Takefu. In subsequent years, he has been invited to many leading festivals of contemporary music in Europe.

Much of Hosokawa’s music rests in the liminal space between the inner journey and the symbolic interpretation of nature. His output includes orchestral pieces such as Meditation to the Victims of Tsunami 3.11 (2012) for orchestra and concerti; chamber music, such as Landscape I for string quartet (1992) and Silent Flower for string quartet (1998); music for traditional Japanese instruments, such as New Seeds of Contemplation (1986) and Mandala (1995) for shômyô and gagaku orchestra, and Voyage X (2009) for shakuhachi and ensemble; as well as film music and operas, such as Vision of Lear (1998), Hanjo (2004), Matsukaze (2010), and The Raven (2011).