Dai Fujikura: Flare

, composer


London based composer Dai Fujikura launches his own imprint for recordings of his work, Minabel Records, with this first release, Flare, featuring performances from such acclaimed ensembles as the Arditti Quartet, Vox Humana, and the Goldfield Ensemble.


# Audio Title/Composer(s) Performer(s) Time
Total Time 67:05
01Flare for string quartet
Flare for string quartet
Arditti Quartet15:03
02But, I fly for 12 voices
But, I fly for 12 voices
Vox Humana9:55
03Sakana for tenor saxophone
Sakana for tenor saxophone
Masanori Oishi, tenor saxophone8:03
04Dolphins for two celli
Dolphins for two celli
Kenji Nakagi, cello, Mari Endo, cello8:35
05Halcyon for clarinet and string trio
Halcyon for clarinet and string trio
Goldfield Ensemble13:52
06Flux for viola
Flux for viola
Johanna Persson, viola5:26
07Scion Stems for string trio
Scion Stems for string trio
Zilliacus/Persson/Raitinen String Trio6:11

London based composer Dai Fujikura launches his own imprint for recordings of his work, Minabel Records, with this first release, Flare. Featuring performances from such acclaimed ensembles as the Arditti Quartet, Vox Humana, and the Goldfield Ensemble, Flare showcases several of Fujikura's chamber works, five of which were recorded live. Many of Dai Fujikura's works evolve from his keen awareness of the sonic landscape of his environment, whether it be the natural or man-made world. Miranda Jackson writes in the liner notes, "Where Fujikura does stand comparison with the sensibilities of Takemitsu, elder statesman of Westernized Japanese composers, is in his ability to depict elements of the natural world through his musical language. However, I reiterate this is not programme music, or a faithful recreation of the energy and movement of the natural world. Rather Fujikura is able to take a visual image or flight sequence from nature and idealize it in musical form." Meanwhile, it should be noted that Fujikura bristles at the label Japanese composer, preferring to immerse himself in several aesthetic schools and borrow the best from them, without finding himself defined by any in particular. In this sense, Dai Fujikura is truly an international composer with a powerfully individual voice, both in his pragmatic approach to aesthetics and in his voracious interest in expanding his artistic pallette.

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. 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 will give the UK premiere of ‘Atom’ as part of the Total Immersion: Sounds from Japan. In his native Japan he has been accorded the special honour of a portrait concert in Suntory Hall in October 2012.

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During the last decade he has been the recipient of numerous prizes, including the Huddersfield Festival Young Composers Award 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.

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 will be premiered in Korea before being brought back to Munich.

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. In 2012/13 the Seattle and Bamberg Symphony will each give continental premieres of ‘Mina’ for wind and percussion soloists and orchestra.

Dai Fujikura is published by G Ricordi & Co, Munich – part of the Universal Music Publishing Classical Group.

Dai Fujikura

Born in 1977 in Osaka Japan, Dai Fujikura was fifteen when he moved to the UK. The recipient of many composition prizes, he has received numerous international co-commissions from the Salzburg Festival, Lucerne Festival, BBC Proms, Bamberg Symphony, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra and more. He has been Composer-in-Residence of Nagoya Philharmonic Orchestra since 2014 and held the same post at the Orchestre national d'Île-de-France in 2017/18. Dai’s first opera Solaris, co-commissioned by the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Opéra de Lausanne and the Opéra de Lille, had its world premiere in Paris in 2015 and has since gained a worldwide reputation. A new production of Solaris was created and performed at the Theatre Augsburg in 2018, and the opera received a subsequent staging in 2020.

In 2017, Dai received the Silver Lion Award from the Venice Biennale. In the same year, he was named the Artistic Director of the Tokyo Metropolitan Theater’s Born Creative Festival.

In 2019, his Shamisen Concerto was premiered at Mostly Mozart festival in New York Lincoln Center and there have so far been 9 performances of this work by various orchestras.

In 2020, his fourth piano concerto Akiko’s Piano is to be premiered by Martha Argerich and Dai is currently composing his third opera, which will be revealed to the public in the same year.

His works are recorded by and released mainly on his own label Minabel Records in collaboration with SONY Music and his compositions are published by Ricordi Berlin.

08 Jul, 2013

Dai Fujikura launches new imprint, Minabel, with album "Flare"

Critically acclaimed London based composer Dai Fujikura has launched a subimprint of New Focus Recordings for recordings of his music, Minabel Records. The first album, released in digital format only, features performances by the Arditti Quartet, Vox Humana, and the Goldfield Ensemble. Stay tuned for more exciting new releases coming this …

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Planet Hugill

Dai Fujikura, the London-based Japanese composer, has launched his own record label, Minabel Records, for recordings of his own works. The first release under the new imprint is Flare showcasing seven of Fujikura's chamber works, performed by the Arditti Quartet, Vox Humana, Masanori Oishi, Mari Endo,Kenji Nakagi, the Goldfield Ensemble, Johanna Persson and the Zilliacus/Persson/Raitinen Trio. Rather impressively five of the pieces are recorded live.

Though Fujikura was born in Osaka, Japan, he has lived in the UK for more than 20 years and he studied composition in London with Edwin Roxburgh, Daryl Runswick and George Benjamin. In his music Fujikura is fascinated by the forms and patterns observed in the natural world, patterns of synchronised movement and geometric precision. On this disc, this is reflected in the way the textures of the pieces develop, transmute and fragment as Fujikura uses often advanced playing techniques to create patterns in sound.

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AnchorFlare (2010) was recorded live by the Arditti String Quartet. The work was inspired by memories of sitting by a campfire as a child, mesmerised by the process of burning. The work gradually transforms from the percussive bursts at the opening to the softest articulations at the end.

The opening is edgy, with its combinations of arco and pizzicato (with the composer also introducing col legno later on), melody is fragmentary at best, it is the sound texture that counts and the way it changes. The movement has intense energy, with strong forward rhythmic thrust. Hidden amongst the complex layers are some lyrical moments, fragments which hint at the 20th century string tradition.

But, I fly (2005) was written for the Japanese choir Vox Humana; it is written for 12 voices. The performance was recorded live, conducted by Ryuta Nishikawa. Fujikura set a text created by Harry Ross, but words are almost incidental here. It is the poly-rhythmical textures which count, as Fujikura sets to explore the vocal possibilities of multiple voices and sets them against each other.

Sakana (2007) was written specifically for the saxophone player Masanori Oishi, who plays the piece on this recording. Fujikura tailor made the work for Oishi, exploring the limits of what was possible. Fujikura consciously chose to write softly for the saxophone, challenging our perception of the instrument as a lout on. The result is a busy, eerie piece where the use of harmonics and other techniques make it difficult to believe that no electronic manipulation is used. Quite an amazing piece.

Dolphins (2010) is written for two cellos, played here live by Mari Endo and Kenji Nakagi. Again Fujikura uses extremes and harmonics, combined with some intensely dramatic writing. The overall feel of the music does evoke something of the feel of swimming and diving.

Halcyon (2011) for clarinet and string trio is played by the Goldfield Ensemble. A high solo clarinet surrounded by strenuous strings, with burst of energy alternating with stasis. The clarinet writing uses advanced phonics, often over Fujikura's beloved plucked strings. In the piece the composer wanted the music to sound as if manipulated using electronics, and it does!

Flux (2010) is for solo viola, played by Johanna Persson. In this piece Fujikura eschewed his favourite pizzicato and instead explored the limits of the possible with a boa, even going so far as to notate the rhythms before the pitches. The piece has a wonderful rapturous feel to it, even though the music remains edgy with a deliberate awkwardness to the writing. The viola's tessitura gives a mellowness to the lower register. There are moments when it is difficult to believe there is just one player and, recorded live, Persson is technically brilliant.

Scion Stems (2011) for string trio is played by the Zilliacus / Persson / Raitinen Trio, again recorded live at the Punkt Festival in 2011 (where Persson also recorded Flux). Starting with multiple trills, the programme note likens the piece to a swarm of bees, congregating, dancing and then separating, though Fujikura says he simply wanted to start with one texture and transform it into different ones. Again we have a rapturous feeling to the music, albeit with a strenuousness to and textures are clearly very important here, the way they intersect and transform.

In each of these works Fujikura explores his chosen forces to their limits taking his players to the edge. And all respond brilliantly giving a series of fascinating performances. Fujikura does not write easy music, each piece on the disc requires care and attention from both performers and listeners. But the results can be magical.

-Planet Hugill

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