Toshio Hosokawa - Ibuki (Atem) (2016)
Axel Porath, viola
Commissioned by Ensemble Musikfabrik, supported by Ministerium für Kultur und Wissenschaft des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen and dedicated to Axel Porath
Janet Sinica, video
Janet Sinica, Jan Böyng, editing
Wolfgang Ellers, recording producer/editing
“Ibuki” means breath in Japanese, and it represents a sense of liveliness. In music, sound is created by breath at every second, and that creates the flow of sound. My music flows like a river. That is created by breath; it comes to life and fades away at every second. That flow has shapes like brush strokes of calligraphy. There is a central note in each section, and I began composing by carefully listening to the changes of that central note. The river of sound ascends to heaven and fades away in the second half.
"When you listen to traditional Japanese music," Toshio Hosokawa once explained, "you always hear a lot of sounds that resemble sounds of nature. They are not ugly noises, but they are always like sounds that we hear in nature and that we approach in music to touch their spirit." This closeness to nature is not only reflected in ancient Japanese music, however. In Hosokawa's works, one can equally encounter poetic bird sounds, the sound of the sea or the gentle caress of the wind. And anyone who, like him, always thematises the eternal cycle of becoming and passing away, inevitably also had to deal with breath as the ultimate life-giver. But Hosokawa did not choose a wind instrument for this. Rather, he wrote "Ibuki" (Breath) for the viola and thus for a string instrument to which he had already dedicated a solo piece with "Threnody to the victims of Tohoku". Each section of the multi-part piece revolves around a central tone, which is played around with "calligraphic brushstrokes". The flow of the sound ascends in the first half of the work, "up to the sky", according to the composer - only to dry up again in the second half. "Ibuki" was premiered by Alex Porath (Ensemble Musikfabrik) in 2016 as part of the Cologne "Acht Brücken" festival.