Yasushi Akutagawa Ellora Symphony Trinita Sinfonica Rapsodia per Orchestra Takuo YuasaYasushi Akutagawa

Ellora Symphony, Trinita Sinfonica, Rapsodia per Orchestra

New Zealand Symphony Orchestra

Takuo Yuasa, conductor

Naxos, 2004


This album celebrates Japanese composer Yasushi Akutagawa, one of the leading figures of 20th century music, suggesting the listening of three of his major works, one for each period in which his production is divided, in the superb performance of the New Zealand Orchestra conducted by Takuo Yuasa.

The first work belongs to the composer’s last period, which confirms the return to praxis that had already characterized the first period and that had been discarded in the second, and it is the Rhapsody (1971), probably composed under the influence of Dukas’s L’apprenti soucier as Akutagawa stated that it represented a sorcerer waving his wand. The choice to open the album with the last work composed among those selected explains itself very well when you will listen to it. This is a powerful composition with a memorable main theme and it is conducted by Yuasa with tension and energy, so that the listener is immediately conquered by its robust, sharp sonority and by its balanced, I would like to say natural, blend between oriental and occidental tunes.

The Ellera symphony, composed in 1958 just at the beginning of Akutagawa’s second period, is an Asia-oriented symphony and takes its name from an Indian city with a famous temple that the composer visited in 1956. The symphony is divided in twenty short movements: the nine Allegro are masculine and the eleven Lento or Adagio are feminine and together they represent a celebration of primitive reproduction. The movements have the peculiarity that can be performed in an order left to the conductor’s discretion and, in the composer’s intentions, they must be repeated endlessly and in every combination. This symphony too leaves a strong impression as it is developed on the contrast between loud and quiet and gives the idea of a primordial, harsh but free world.

The Trinita sinfonica (1948) was Akutagawa’s first great success after graduating at the conservatory and reveals the influence of Soviet music, with more or less clear references to Stravinsky’s La sacre du printemps. In comparison with the previous symphony, it is a gentle leaving in which the lullaby tune is a quiet preparation to the liveliness of the finale.

This album is definitely a pleasant surprise and in case an excellent introduction to an unusual repertoire that can be better understood thanks also to the enlightening and exhaustive notes that accompany it.