Dai Fujikura: Diamond Dust

, composer

About

Dai Fujikura’s latest release on his Minabel label covers a wide range of instrumentation, from solo works for horn, Japanese shakuhachi, violin and trombone to two concertos: a piano concerto and a double bass concerto. Performers who appear on this album also vary widely: Viktoria Mullova, Nobuaki Fukukawa, Mei Yi Foo, William Lang, Yoji Sato, Reison Kuroda, with two conductors Kenichi Nakagawa and Norio Sato with Ensemble Nomad. All tracks are edited, mixed and mastered by the composer himself.

Audio

Korokoro

Korokoro is a Japanese onomatopoeia, but also the name of a traditional technique in shakuhachi playing.

While composing the piece, I researched all aspects of this instrument, from how to actually construct a shakuhachi from bamboo to the playing of the instrument, often working together with Dozan Fujiwara who commissioned this work.

When writing for a particular instrument, I always have to search for one sound which attracts me very strongly. In order to ‘meet’ the right sound I spend hours looking for it, sometimes with the musician. As soon as I discovered the sound of the korokoro playing technique, I knew this was the one. Also, Dozan told me that traditionally korokoro is only a decorative technique, and it would be quite unusual and even strange from a traditional point of view if I obsessively used it as the main sound of the piece. That’s when I knew what I had to do, which was to construct the whole piece based on korokoro, and even go as far as calling the piece Korokoro.

-Dai Fujikura (Edited by Alison Phillips)

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Diamond Dust

This is my 2nd piano concerto. My first piano concerto was called AMPERE, and was written for piano and symphony orchestra (with toy piano cadenza).

I wanted to make this 2nd piano concerto a complete contrast to the first one. Therefore Diamond Dust is written for ensemble and piano. In AMPERE, I treated the Orchestra as an extended sustain pedal of the piano. The result was as if the orchestra was the out of control resonance of the piano itself. For Diamond Dust I wanted to treat the ensemble as an uncontrollable harmonic field. I imagined that the harmonic series of the piano was alive and particularly mischievous. The work starts with an attack of the lowest key of most pianos, a very low A, and the ensemble quickly runs up the harmonic series. As it goes up the series it becomes distorted, and pitches float away. These loose notes start forming their own harmonic series of the low A, and make different textures until they start making lyrical phrases which are like swarming animals (a particular obsession of mine). These textures play very lyrically together, sometimes flying off as individual animals and then returning to the swarm together. As this happens the harmonic series gets more and more distorted, and finally returns to the piano as a completely transformed base note.

Since this is a piano concerto (and I LOVE writing concertos), the piano makes the musical material in the rest of the workflow. As this piece was commissioned by a Norwegian pianist and ensemble (and I LOVE Scandinavian cultures), I was often thinking of ice whilst writing the piece.

Light is shining on big blocks of ice and many small particles of ice. The light gets reflected and sparkles into new spaces.

As the piece progresses, the piano creates more and more material which is added to this fragmented diamantine labyrinth of distorted harmonic textures which constantly behave unpredictably yet slowly forms a crystal castle that imprisons the piano and vibraphone which then struggle to escape.

-Dai Fujikura (edited by Harry Ross)

Deliquesce

This piece for trombone is like a sister piece to my solo horn piece Poyopoyo.

Deliquesce expresses something between vibrato and smooth glissandi, and is, like Poyopoyo, also to be played with a harmon mute throughout the piece. Unlike in Poyopoyo, however, the use of harmon mute in this piece is much more rhythmic.

The climax of the piece explores the combination of harmonic-glissandi and glissandi made by using the slide of the instrument, techniques explored during frequent sessions with several different trombone players.

-Dai Fujikura (edited by Alison Phillips)

Line by Line

I was at Viktoria Mullova and Matthew Barley's house where Matthew and I were rehearsing The Spirit of Beings which I had composed for him, and on my way out of the house, Viktoria asked me if I also want to write a piece for her. Of course I was delighted to do this! Line by Line is a piece which sounds as if there are 2 violins playing at the same time, with their lines intertwining with each other.

The end of the piece I changed many times, and the final version was decided at the Viktoria's house where we were trying several options. After Viktoria played one of them we looked at each other and said, "That's it!" I love this kind of moment when working with musicians.

-Dai Fujikura (Edited by Alison Phillips)

Double Bass Concerto

I have already written quite a few concerti for less familiar solo instruments, such as recorder, horn and trombone, in a desire to acquire more intimate knowledge about the mechanics and characteristic sounds of each instrument. I am familiar with Enno Senft's playing from a variety of concerts of different repertoire he has given with the London Sinfonietta, including some of my own compositions. It was partly as a result of his versatility and partly because of his humorous criticisms of the way I was writing for double bass that I decided to write a concerto for him and embrace the opportunity of working with such an outstanding player to better understand the instrument's character and even its limitations.

In advance of the concerto I had a chance to write a work for solo instrument in celebration of the London Sinfonietta's anniversary; naturally I chose Enno and his double bass. The piece entitled "es" was born. The bottom string of the instrument is detuned to E-flat which is "es" in German (and the other three strings are also detuned to B-flat, D-flat and A-flat). Enno Senft is German, and his initials E.S. are the same for E-flat in German. I spent many hours at his house during which he patiently illustrated just what the double bass is capable of and explained how it differs from the other stringed instruments. I like writing a small solo piece as a "seed" of the concerto, but normally don't use it directly in the final concerto. This time I had to promise Enno that I would, so it was a challenge for me to develop the concerto from the starting point of the 3-minute work, rather than starting from scratch.

For the concerto, I wanted to describe the journey of a human picking up the instrument for the first time, playing it with the palm/flesh of his/her hands, hits the double bass strings by hand to produce a gentle, gong-like sound (This is only effective because, despite its size, the double bass is so sensitive).

After this section, a human learning to play with his/her fingernails, here he/she plays percussively, playing harshly across the strings rapidly and strumming the strings between the left hand on the fingerboard and the scroll, as if playing a Spanish guitar on its side (unorthodox for the Double Bass).

And then by pizzicato, which is one of the essential characteristics of the double bass. At last picking up the bow playing lyrical phrases while the ensemble is playing energetic contrasting materials, then finding the natural harmonics (with tremolo) at the end. (Since all the strings are detuned, hopefully the natural harmonics also sound unique).

The ensemble reacts to what the double bass plays. The ensemble consists of higher pitched instruments and they act as the distorted harmonic series which flies into the ensemble from the notes the soloist plays.

-Dai Fujikura (edited by Miranda Jackson)

  • All tracks composed, edited, mixed and mastered by Dai Fujikura
  • Directed by Motoichi Sugita (SMJI)
  • Artwork & design by Mikhail Mihaylov
  • Korokoro commissioned by Dozan Fujiwara
  • Diamond Dust commissioned by Ellen Ugelvik with funding from Arts Council Norway, co-commissioned by Casa da Música
  • Deliquesce commissioned by Mayumi Shimizu
  • Line by Line commissioned by Viktoria Mullova
  • Double Bass Concerto commissioned by the London Sinfonietta with generous support from the London Sinfonietta Commissioning Circle and The RVW Trust

Dai Fujikura

Although Dai Fujikura was born in Osaka, he has now spent more than 20 years in the UK where he studied composition with Edwin Roxburgh, Daryl Runswick and George Benjamin. During the last decade he has been the recipient of numerous prizes, including Kazimierz Serocki International Composers’ Competition 1998 and a Royal Philharmonic Society Award in UK, Internationaler Wiener Composition Prize, the Paul Hindemith Prize in Austria and Germany respectively and both the OTAKA and Akutagawa awards in 2009.

A quick glance at his list of commissions and performances reveals he is fast becoming a truly international composer. His music is not only performed in the country of his birth or his adopted home, but is now performed in venues as geographically diverse as Caracas and Oslo, Venice and Schleswig-Holstein, Lucerne and Paris.

In his native Japan he has been accorded the special honour of a portrait concert in Suntory Hall in October 2012. In London where he chooses to live with his wife and family, he has now received two BBC Proms commissions, his Double Bass Concerto was recently premiered by the London Sinfonietta and in 2013 the BBC Symphony Orchestra gave the UK premiere of ‘Atom’ as part of the Total Immersion: Sounds from Japan.

The French music world too has taken him to its hearts with numerous commissions, culminating in his first opera – an artistic collaboration with Saburo Teshigawara, which will be co-produced by Theatre des Champs Elysées, Lausanne and Lille. In Germany the European premiere of ‘Tocar y Luchar,’ the world premiere of which was given in Venezuela by Gustavo Dudamel and the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra, was given at the Ultraschall Festival in Berlin. His next German commission is ‘Grasping’ for the Munich Chamber Orchestra which was premiered in Korea before being brought back to Munich. Switzerland has featured his music at the Lucerne Festival, Austria at the Salzburg Festival and Norway at the Punkt Festival and a commission in 2013 from the Oslo Sinfonietta.

Conductors with whom he has worked include Pierre Boulez, Peter Eötvös, Jonathan Nott, Gustavo Dudamel, the newly-appointed conductor of the Suisse Romande, Kazuki Yamada and Alexander Liebreich. His compositions are increasingly the product of international co-commissions. In 2012/13 the Seattle and Bamberg Symphony will each give continental premieres of ‘Mina’ for wind a percussion soloists and orchestra and the Asian premiere will be given by Nagoya Philharmonic Orchestra. In 2011/12 the Arditti Quartet performed ‘flare’ in collaborating venues in London, Edinburgh and Tokyo. His opera, which is based on Stanislaw Lem’s novel, Solaris, will be co-produced in both France and Switzerland.

In 2012 NMC released "secret forest", the first disc devoted exclusively to his music, and in 2013 Commmons released "Mirrors", an album including four of his orchestral works. KAIROS has released "ice" an album including his chamber and electronics music. He also runs his own record label Minabel. Minabel has released six of his portrait albums, two of which are collaboration with SONY Japan.

He has also collaborated in the experimental pop/jazz/improvisation world. A co-composition with Ryuichi Sakamoto was premiered in Hakuju Hall in Japan, collaborative works with David Sylvian are on Sylvian's "died in the wool" album and also Dai's co-compositions with Jan Bang and Sidsel Endresen feature on Jan Bang's album, released from Jazzland records.

Dai Fujikura is published by Ricordi Berlin.

http://www.daifujikura.com

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