Toshi Ichiyanagi

Violin Concerto "Junkansuru Fukei" (Circulating Scenery)

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Performed at the Min-On Contemporary Music Festival with Paul Zukofsky, violin, and the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Tadaaki Otaka, this dramatic concerto in three movements was composed in 1983, and is described by Ichiyanagi as a "violin solo with an orchestra attached." The title Circulating Scenery is applicable to the concerto's evocative, mysteriously rotating patterns of "memory... linked with a scene." Sometimes impressionistically cloudy, sometimes rhythmically propulsive patterns continuously segue into new and unexpected territories. The complex and virtuosic solo violin writing provides lyrical and at times impassioned commentaries on evoked memories. The orchestration is a rich palette with the depth of an Alban Berg score and the transparencies of the best contemporary composers, such as Takemitsu. But Ichiyanagi's voice is unique and convincing. This concerto and the five pieces for violin and piano from the years 1976 through 1982 form a new departure into narrative music for a composer previously involved with more Cage-ian influences. However, his earlier works always possessed the internal dramatics externalized by this 1983 concerto. Ichiyanagi was also responsible for bringing much European and American new music to Japan in the 1960s by organizing concerts and exhibitions of graph music. His late-'80s solo works and larger pieces also provide engaging listening.