• Thea Musgrave
  • Journey Through a Japanese Landscape - Concerto for Marimba and Wind Orchestra (1994)

  • Novello & Co Ltd (World)

Commissioned by the BASBWE Education Trust and a Consortium of Music Colleges (RNCM, University of Warwick, Birmingham Conservatoire, Guildhall School of Music and Drama)

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  • Marimba
  • 23 min

Programme Note

The four movements of Journey through a Japanese Landscape are based on a series of Haiku which represent an emotional journey through the four seasons. The solo marimba introduces each on with a ‘peal’ on wind chimes - bamboo for spring, wood for summer, metal for autumn and glass for winter.

The Haiku chosen for each of the seasons provide a setting and an ‘event’. Thus the gently undulating spring sea is the background for the free improvisatory character of the skylark (solo marimba).

The summer grasses have buried the glorious dreams of ancient warriors (a march for brass instruments) and after a violent storm, a distant memory of this march is heard on the solo marimba.

An autumnal fog envelopes a colossal Buddha (solo for English horn, with slow moving brass and hovering 6-note chords for marimba). The solo flute represents the lonely watcher who sounds "one gong after another”. The cricket (wood blocks, temple blocks and slap strokes on the marimba, over an intoned A flat) is asked to 'act as grave keeper'.

Glass wind chimes introduce the frozen winter landscape. Winds reintroduce the march theme, the ‘lonely’ flute returns, then sleet and snow various drums all played with nylon brushes) build to a big storm. Out of the silence that follows, echoes of the first movement suggest the return of spring and so rebirth.


Thea Musgrave

Discography