3 Pieces for Shakuhachi and Koto

Title Antares: 3 Pieces for Shakuhachi and Koto
Year 2007
Composer Stefan Hakenberg
Instrument/s koto, shakuhachi or tenor recorder
Commission commissioned by Takashi Koto
Duration 5’15” 4’30” 3’53”
First Performance (date, performers, venue) 2008, Afternoon of Shakuhachi and Koto Music Concert Series, Marco Lienhard and Ryuko Mizutani, Public Library of Brookline, Brookline, Massachusetts
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Notes Antares is a set of three intimate pieces for shakuhachi and koto. They are defined by a flow of the musical thoughts that is organic, yet taking unexpected turns at times. Extended phrases establish a quiet pacing of the musical developments in each of the pieces. They are interconnected. Slowly descending glissandos or chromatic lines played by the shakuhachi unmistakably appear in each of them in one way or another. Also distinctive koto glissandos play a key role in the compositon and pronounce the interconnectedness of the three pieces.
The first piece is the slowest. Long shakuhachi notes often soar through the higher, more intense register of the instrument. The koto part begins with a long tremolo emerging from the first sustained shakuhachi note. Towards the end the shakuhachi part is characterized by extended chains of rich embellishments around central notes.
While the koto part grew out of the shakuhachi part in the first piece the second piece begins with a dramatic glissando gesture of the koto leading up to a brilliant high note entrance of the shakuhachi. The shakuhachi part continues above a frisky throbbing koto rhythm featuring frequent syncopation. In the middle of the piece appears a simple, meditative low register shakuhachi solo. At the end of this section the koto rhythm pops up again. Eventually the music leads to an apotheosis with wild koto glissandos executed on both sides of the bridges simultaneously.
The last piece is the most personal one. It is quieter than the two preceding ones. The shakuhachi part is mostly kept in the softer, lower register and the koto part is sparser and more concise than in the previous two pieces.
(Stefan Hakenberg, 2008)