A musical message from Japan

Toshio Hosokawa is a composer of contemporary classical music whose aesthetic is informed by classical Japanese culture. Momo Kodama is a classical pianist with a commitment to divulge works by contemporary Japanese composers. Seiji Ozawa is known for his advocacy of modern composers and for his work with the Boston Symphony Orchestra which he led for 29 years. These three artists came together in 2006 to record two works of great significance to all three of them: W.A. Mozart’s Concerto for Piano and Orchestra in A Major, No. 23, and Toshio Hosokawa’s Lotus under the Moonlight.

Leading his own Mito Chamber Orchestra, the Japanese maestro gave the world premiere of Toshio Hosokawa’s Lotus under the Moonlight, a one-movement concerto with Momo Kodama as soloist. The German label ECM has recently announced the re-release of the 14-year old recording, straightforwardly engineered by Yoshinori Yishiwaki and Suenori Fukui in an ECM recording soon to be available on various platforms.

Hosokawa’s Lotus under the Moonlight is an intriguingly compelling work whose harmonic and melodic traits reveal both European and Japanese roots. At all times Hosokawa’s exquisite composition is ineffably Eastern in its economy of means, noble in its intentions, and rich in its depiction of the birth and life of a lotus flower that rises out of the water to embrace the moonlight and the universe beyond.

Momo Kodama is the soloist in both Hosokawa’s Lotus under the Moonlight and in Mozart’s beloved A Major, K. 488 concerto.

The Allegro that opens the 1786 composition reflects Mozart’s state of mind at the time: he was a happy man, piano soloist in this and two other concertos, his Le Nozze di Figaro was about to open in Prague. But then a doleful F# minor middle movement follows as a revelation of the spiritual conflict that ever lived in Mozart’s soul. Then a third movement Allegro  (Italian for both lively and happy) is both lively in speed and happy in spirit, episodic in nature, calling for elegance and suppleness of execution, all of which the protean Momo Kodama joyfully delivers with the beloved maestro Ozawa as an elegant partner at the helm of the sterling Mito Chamber Orchestra.

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