Jo Kondo - Bonjin: Chamber Music | Wergo WER73422

Jo Kondo - Bonjin: Chamber Music


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Label: Wergo

Cat No: WER73422

Format: CD

Number of Discs: 1

Genre: Chamber

Release Date: 30th September 2016



What happens if the composer and the listener are the same person? This is exactly what Jō Kondō’s way of composing implies. If the composer is to be nothing but a curious listener, he must be able to surprise himself. He must rid himself of all prior knowledge or intention. Born in Tokyo in 1947, Jō Kondō was influenced throughout his entire education almost exclusively by traditional Western art music. Like so many of his Western colleagues, he feels this to be both a limitation and the greatest challenge to the creative process. “The music one grows up with is like a cage one has to break out of.”

The type of improvisation that Jō Kondō employs is only loosely related to improvisation as it is commonly understood. Kondō does not improvise using an instrument, but with music paper, note by note. “I write down the first note, which can be anything, and then I try to listen to it again and again in my head until the second note appears. Then I write it down, and then I listen to these two notes again and again until the third note comes up. And then, repeating this process, I always go back to the top of the music to find the next note. That means that when I have 150 notes already in succession on my paper, I find number 151 by going back to the top of the piece and listening through from the top to the 150th note to find the next note. That’s what I mean by improvisation.”

All of Jō Kondō’s pieces have been written using this method. The result is a completely linear music that avoids any kind of obvious phrasing, melody, or motivic development, permitting the individual note to retain “its own entity of life”. Since even a musical line can endanger this fragile autonomy, Kondō distributes the notes among the various instrumental parts. This “hocket” technique, which has been used since the thirteenth century, demands enormous rhythmic virtuosity from the performers to avoid disrupting the organic unity of the extremely fragmented line. Thus, there is space left for the listener to create his own phrasing out of it.

Ensemble l’Art pour l’Art:
- Norma Enns (soprano)
- Astrid Schmeling (flute)
- Ariadne Daskalakis (violin)
- Stefan Schäfer (double bass)
- Hartmut Leistritz (piano)
- Michael Schröder (guitar)
- Matthias Kaul (percussion)

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