1. From the Depth of Silence (2000, rev. 2001) (12:35)
for two tubular bells and orchestra
2. Burning Meditation (1993) (12:11)
version for baritone and string orchestra
3. Kyokoku (1991) (23:58)
for baritone and orchestra
4. Kisetsu (1999) (14:22)
a New York Philharmonic “Messages for the Millennium” commission
Thomas Buckner, baritone
The Janácek Philharmonic
Petr Kotik, conductor
Composer supervised recordings
Somei Satoh has emerged as one of Japan’s most highly acclaimed composers. Filtered through Toru Takemitsu’s cross-cultural prism, his work shares similarities with the post-Minimalism of composers such as Arvo Pärt and Henryk Gorecki as well as the sacred music of iconoclasts such as John Tavener. All this to say that Satoh’s music is dramatic, powerful and unabashedly gorgeous without descending to melodrama and the wearing of his heart on his sleeve.
This disc marks the first recording of Satoh’s music for orchestra.
Kisetsu (1993) was commissioned in 1999 by Kurt Masur for the New York Philharmonic as part of the “Messages for the Millenium” Series. In the series, it was Masur’s intent that the composers “write a musical message for the year 2000, a universal message of hope to the people of the world.”
From the Depth of Silence (2000, rev. 2001), commissioned by the Shinnittetsu Foundation, is Satoh’s first composition for orchestra. The pacing, nearly devoid of momentum, suggests a work that derives from Japanese culture and tradition. By creating a sonic world where time is suspended, Satoh invites the listener to investigate all of the subtleties and nuances of the musical landscape that he has created. The tubular bells, as well as the occasional harp also serve as coloristic punctuation and counterpoint to the sustained tones of the other orchestral instruments.
Burning Meditation (1993) commissioned by and dedicated to Thomas Buckner, was initially written for baritone solo and string quartet and is presented here in an arrangement and adaptation prepared by Satoh for baritone and string orchestra. Burning Meditation uses the poem of the same title by the Japanese poet Kazuko Shiraishi.
Kyokoku (2001) was commissioned by Thomas Buckner. It is a work that should be considered to be for orchestra with voice, the vocal part is intended not to be in the foreground, rather it is to be a part of the entire musical fabric. The slow tempos of Kyokoku are typical of Satoh’s mature oeuvre, but here the punctuations offered up by the percussion battery invoke a number of musical images including the ceremonial percussion of the composer’s Japanese heritage.