Kazuo Fukushima

Kazuo Fukushima: Works for Flute and Piano

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These solo and duo works by the self-taught composer Kazuo Fukushima represent the influence of noh music and Buddhist dharma on his life's work. They are self contained universes where the notion of the infinite is contained within a single note and its interaction with another one or with silence itself. The earliest of these works here, "Requiem" from 1956, is a flute solo based in serial technique, a simple 12-tone row repeated over the course of five-and-a-half minutes. In his duo for flute and piano, "Ekagra From 1957," we see the influence of other composers such as Toru Takemitsu and even Varese come into play. Serialism is replaced by "composition by field of the moment." That moment, much as in Morton Feldman's moment, is where the tonal possibilities inherent in the duration of any one note enter into an ever fluctuating relationship with the other notes in a measure or in a work based on the way they are played or their movement against tonal scales. As his works emerge from the '50s into the '60s and the '70s, the noh influence becomes pervasive. In works such as "Kadha Karuna" for flute and piano, all considered relationship between notes ceases and they are encountered as whole, complete, inter being with one another despite notions of pitch, interval, meter, etc. As a result, the stillness in Fukushima's work is pronounced, solitary, yet open. By the time of the '70s pieces, here represented by the flute solo "Shun-San" and the piano solo "Suien," the shift in Fukushima's tonal work was complete. Working only in overtonal method and semitone phrases, all notions of harmonic fulfillment and consideration have been stripped away in favor of a tonal lyricism that reflects itself as if in a mirror pool. The temptation to look at Fukushima's music as austere and separate is justified from a Western perspective, but it is errant perception. Fukushima's tonal universe has no need for harmony because it the thing itself. Stripped of all its linguistic and technical baggage, it becomes harmony, complete and full, co-existing -- not only as music but as a state of mind -- with all things.

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