FUKAI: 4 Mouvements Parodiques / Images / Ballet Music Creature

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Shiro Fukai (1907-1959)

Chantes de Java Creation Quatre mouvements parodiques

In the second half of the nineteenth century, Japanesewesternisation in music led first to an interest inGerman musical traditions, while the Army Band, onthe contrary, took France as its model, with many of itsmusicians trained in France. From this latterbackground emerged, in the 1920s, the self-taughtcomposer Meiro Sugahara (1897-1988), who became anopponent of the German school musicians from theTokyo Music School, such as Kos?ºak Yamada andKiyoshi Nobutoki. Sugahara maintained that studyingFrench music would be more appropriate, as Japanesetraditional music was more linear than harmonic andmore modal than tonal. Sugahara thus became theleader of the French school from the 1920s to the 1930s.

Fukai was among his pupils.

Shiro Fukai was born to a medical family on 4thApril 1907 in Akita, some 400 kilometres north ofTokyo. After graduating from junior high school there,he moved to Kagoshima, 1000 kilometres southwest ofTokyo, and entered Kagoshima Seventh Senior HighSchool. Here he completed his studies, but wasprevented from continuing at university by tuberculosis,from which he recovered in a period of two years ofconvalescence in Akita. In Kagoshima Fukai heardplenty of western music on records and was particularlyfascinated by Stravinsky's L'oiseau de feu. In Akitaagain, he became familiar with French music, and beganto compose, moving to Tokyo in 1928, in defiance ofhis family's wishes. There he attended several privatemusic schools, and frequently visited Nanki MusicLibrary, where many music scores and books had beenassembled by Yorisada Tokugawa, a descendant of theTokugawa shogun family that had ruled over Japanuntil the second half of the nineteenth century, and astudent of Stanford in London. Starting his study ofmusic late, Fukai memorised scores by the composershe was interested in, and later recalled learning everyavailable score of Ravel and Stravinsky. This broughthim skill in orchestration, and he also studied privatelywith Sugahara.

Sugahara and Fukai were, however, very differentfrom each other. Sugahara, until the 1930s, was eager tocombine Japanese tradition with the French style, whileFukai, ten years younger, no longer gave specialattention to Japanese tradition. To him Japanesetradition provided material that might be used, but hisprincipal interest was in French music, above allRavel's works, not because the French style hadaffinities with Japanese traditional music, but becausehe loved the artificial beauty of modern cities, and, as amodernist, no longer had special feelings for the oldJapan. For him everything should be clear, precise, andlight, which led him to dislike weightier music likeBeethoven's symphonies or sonatas. He valued mosthighly Ravel and Stravinsky, or Les Six and Ibert,although Stravinsky's boldness and violence provedeventually incompatible with his taste, while Ravelremained his ultimate goal.

It was not long before Fukai's music won highacclaim in Tokyo. Here he became a hero of the urbanintellectual class, who did not like Germanic heavinessand were tired of excessive attention to Japanesetradition. It is true that he wrote music based onJapanese and Asian materials from the second half ofthe 1930s to 1945, complying with the demands of thewartime regime, but he still maintained a cool Ravelianeye, keeping his distance from ecstatic nationalism. Hisattitude never changed after World War II. He felt thatthe twelve-tone method was no more violent thanStravinsky's music. Works by Messiaen and Jolivetseemed to return to savageness, little different fromwartime nationalism. To Fukai the music that showedthe most balanced musical ideals was still that of Ravel.

Apart from the three works included here, Fukai'smain works include ballet music Metropolis (1934) andVoice of Autumn (1950), Song of Manchuria -Symphonic Suite (1941), Trois mouvements pour unballet imaginaire (1956), and Tokyo - SymphonicPicture Scroll (1957), the cantata Prayer for Peace(1950), Divertissement pour 13 executants (1955) andFour Japanese Folk Songs (1957). He also began towrite music for films in the first half of the 1930s and itbecame his main source of income, with scores fornearly 200 films, including films directed by KenjiMizoguchi and Tom Uchida. Fukai died suddenly on2nd July 1959 in Kyoto, where he was staying whileworking on music for a film.

In 1933 Fukai wrote Cinq parodies, a suiteconsisting of five movements dedicated respectively tode Falla, Stravinsky, Malipiero, Ravel and Bartok. Itwas first performed in a broadcast in May of thefollowing year, with the composer conducting the NewSymphony Orchestra (today's NHK SymphonyOrchestra). In 1936 he reassembled this work intoQuatre mouvements parodiques by removing theMalipiero movement and changing the name of theBartok movement to Roussel, to enter a New SymphonyOrchestra competition for orchestral works. The workwon a prize, together with works by Saburo Moroi,Bun'ya Koh (the Taiwan-born Chinese Wen-ye Jiang, aJapanese citizen) and Kishio Hirao, and had its premi?¿rein Tokyo on 27th January 1937 with Joseph Rosenstockand the New Symphony Orchestra.

Of the first movement, Falla, the composer wrote:\Dear Manuel de Falla. Your homeland has become abattle field. If you stand on the ruins and look over thebeautiful gardens and hills you once depicted in yourwork, you will not be able to subdue your tears. Thispiece of music is your portrait, a man weighed down bygrief, looking on all sides at heaps of rubble." As theword "gardens" implies, this movement is an adaptationof de Falla's Nights in the Gardens of Spain (above allits first movement), from its piano obbligato, mainlyformed by arpeggios, to its Spanish nocturnalatmosphere. The second half of the movement, a canonon a sad theme written in the Dorian scale, is an elegyfor Spain destroyed by the civil war of 1936.

The second movement is Stravinsky: "Dear IgorStravinsky. Your eccentric, unexpected way ofcomposition reminds me of Chin-Dong-ya (a Japaneseadvertising group, consisting of sandwich-men,clarinettists and bass drummers, walking the streets asthey play). This piece is your portrait, who performsChin-Dong-ya, dressed in a tail coat, wearing a silkhat." The prototypes of the main rhythm patterns andmelodies are found in the first movement March and thefinal movement Galop of Suite No.2 for small orchestra.

Fukai uses these materials in the style of Petrushka, andadds a barbaric and abrupt coda, imitating Le sacre duprintemps.

The third movement is Ravel: "Dear MauriceRavel. You were never to get married. You laughed atthe innocent peacock (Le paon) in your Histoiresnaturelles, saying that it was like a man deserted by hisfiancee on the very day of marriage. You appear to methe alter ego of the peacock." This movement followsthe styles of Ma m?¿re l'oye, Le tombeau de Couperinand Pavane pour une infante defunte. The flute tenderlysings the quite Ravelian theme in the Phrygian scale,over the strings and the piano. The theme developsfreely and then returns to the original form. This musicis a lullaby for a solitary unmarried man.

The fourth movement is Roussel: "Dear AlbertRoussel. I always admire you, who can write music fullof energy, despite your old age. This piece depicts youeating four beefsteaks. As you sometimes try toswallow the steak forcibly, the music undulates in anunnatural way." This movement was originally calledBartok in Cinq parodies. The music itself was notchanged at all and only the title was altered to Roussel.

The opening theme is considered a variant of the motifof Bartok's Dance Suite, but the way of maintaining anddeveloping the theme in vigorous rhythms, or themelodies in the middle part, is based on the style ofRoussel's Symphony
Item number 8557688
Barcode 747313268825
Release date 01/01/2006
Label Naxos Classics
Media type CD
Number of units 1
Composers Fukai, Shiro
Fukai, Shiro
Conductors Yablonsky, Dmitry
Yablonsky, Dmitry
Orchestras Russian Philharmonic Orchestra
Russian Philharmonic Orchestra
Producers Doronina, Lubov
Doronina, Lubov
Disc: 1
Image Symphonique, "Chantes de Java" (Symphonic Pi
1 I. Falla: Modere
2 II. Stravinsky: Vif et rythme
3 III. Ravel: Assez lent
4 IV. Roussel: Anime
5 I. Naissance de dieux
6 II. Naissance de etres vivants
7 III. Naissance de etres humains
8 Image Symphonique, "Chantes de Java" (Symphonic Pi
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