Phono III for solo clarinet (1986)
was composed in 1986, and first performed by Yasuaki Itakura in Tokyo in 1986. This piece waqs adopted as an examination piece for the Third Japan Clarinet Competition.
Hirai III for clarinet and string orchestra (1987)
is the third work in a series: Hirai I for flute and violin was composed in 1984, and Hirai II (string quartet) in 1985. Hirai III was inspired by Mt. Norikura (3026 m.) in central Japan, which the composer climbs every year. "The view from the top, sound of the wind, and width of space like the universe" are translated into nine sections in this concerto for clarinet and strings. "Three main ideas are articulated: the pitch E, a string harmony idea, and a hidden melody idea." The nine sections are:
1) prologue - image of the upper atmosphere; 2) string harmony and clarinet solo (alternating); 3) clarinet cadenza; 4) ascending allegro I; 5) scherzo; 6) climax I; 7) ascending allegro II; 8) climax II; 9) epilogue (similar to the prologue).
The clarinet writing is similar to the earlier work, Phono III, and is closely related to Japanese honkyoku [music for shakuhachi], because of its employment of microtonal ornamentation, pitch bends (glissandi), importance of subtle timbre changes (especially in repeated note figures, and in alternate or timbre fingerings), short melodic fragments, and dynamic swells (changing overtone spectrum, including multiphonics).
for clarinet and piano was commissioned by the Tanosaki-Richards Duo, who presented its premiere in New Orleans in October of the same year. The work subsequently won First Prize at the Asian Composers League (ACL) Young Composers Awards at the ISCM-ACL World Music Days in Hong Kong (1988). The Tanosaki-Richards Duo has recorded Distraction on a Nine Winds CD.
Distraction explores new color possibilities (microtones, multiphonics) of the clarinet, along with non-chordal piano writing. The work makes special use of piano resonances during its closing section, when the clarinet plays into the strings.
Hirai V for Clarinet, Piano and Orchestra (1992)
This work is written for E. Michael Richards, Kazuko Tanosaki, and the Hamilton College Orchestra.
Hirai is a Japanese word which means ‘come flying.' I have not failed to visit the top of Mr. Norikura and its surrounding area these past several summers. There is a great snowfield where one can enjoy skiing even in the summer, and that is a fine location to command a view of all the mountains in Japan . But what I like better than this wonderful scenery is its space itself that expands high up in the air through the stratosphere finally into the universe, or the color of its sky, and the sound of its wind.
This is the fifth piece named Hirai based on the image written above. I am sure that you will find what this image is like when you listen to the opening. But the work is not an aim at descriptive music, but, rather, at the expression of human sentiment, the soul of Asia , and passions in the face of Mother Nature.
What I took notice in, while composing this work, was to take full advantage of the piano as a resonator, and to make the most of microtonal systems, multiphonics, and fingerings on which Mr. E. Michael Richards has long been working. I also used some of them in my other work, ‘Distraction for clarinet and piano, that was written for the Tanosaki-Richards Duo in 1987.
Construction of the piece is in the following form:
I - prologue
II - harmonic theme and mini-candenza
III - cadenza
IV - continuance of harmony and Asian dance – climax
V - reverberations