28. August 2020

Lockdown Tape #52


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Akira NishimuraThrenody (1998) for violoncello solo

Dirk Wietheger, violoncello

Janet Sinica, video
Hendrik Manook, sound design

The music of Akira Nishimura (born 1953) moves in the field of tension between Western avant-garde and Far Eastern tradition. I first encountered it when we performed his chamber opera Eshi – the painter in 2002, one of my first scenic projects with the Ensemble Musikfabrik. Very impressed by the power and the unconditional nature of this music, which requires only seven instrumentalists, I wanted to get to know more of his music. Four years later the ensemble finally traveled to Takefu, where I met him at the international festival there and was allowed to perform Threnody for the first time. Since then I have enjoyed playing the piece again and again. Although Nishimura is very famous in Japan, his pieces are unfortunately performed comparatively seldom in the West – wrongly so I think, but this is gradually changing, as his works show great power and independence. I learn a lot, especially how to switch off my own ego: It seems to me as if the cellist has to surrender completely to a higher power, by which he lets himself be moved. Not a subjective lament, but rather a lament of the entire cosmos, into which he is taken along with it. Not he should play, but It should play in him. Inevitably I think back to reading Eugen Herrigel’s Zen in the Art of Archery. Will I be able to approach this mastery?

Dirk Wietheger, August 2020