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Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra

Paul Mayer, Conductor

Soloist: Ayako Maeda, Flute

Henri Tomasi (1901-1971)Fanfares Liturgique
Jonathan Newman (b. 1972)Concertino for Flute Solo, Chamber Winds, and Piano
Toshio Mashima (b. 1949)The Earth - What a Beautiful Planet
Vittorio Giannini (1903-1966)Symphony No.3

The outstanding performance of the week should have been Concert 12 with the world's greatest wind orchestra the Tokyo Kosei under its new Principal Conductor, Paul Meyer. In the event, this was disappointing, especially since the programme looked to be ingeniously constructed, a first half of chamber works, a second with a work by the major Japanese composer Toshio Mashima.

The Tomasi was probably on everyone's list of major discoveries, a brilliant set of four extended fanfares fully exploiting the potential of the symphonic brass, a wonderful find and a must for any orchestra with a really strong brass section to show off. I was disappointed with the Newman Concertino for Flute Solo, Chamber Winds and Piano, mainly because from where I was sitting the flute was almost inaudible. Newman scores very busily, and in this acoustic, much more care needed to be taken with the sonorities. I need to hear the work again.

The second half began with a Hollywood spectacular, The Earth what a Beautiful Planet by the excellent Toshio Mashima. I have greatly enjoyed his music in the past, and felt that his is an important voice in contemporary Japanese wind music, but while this piece showed his enormous prowess as an orchestrator, and what a wonderful orchestra the Kosei is, this was film or Broadway music which we might meet on Friday Night is Music Night on British light Radio or the Oscar Ceremony. That having been said, I woke up one morning in Crete humming an annoying tune which I could not get out of my head until finally recognising it as the main theme from this piece. It met with rapturous applause, and was probably the hit of the Conference but how disappointing to hear the Kosei playing this kind of music. I actually booed albeit quietly, but I was in a minority of one!

Their concert ended with a golden oldie, the Giannini Symphony No 3. It is now just over fifty years old, and brilliantly exploits the American band of the fifties, but for me like so much of the band repertoire of the mid 20th Century is lacking in originality, melodically, rhythmically or harmonically. I have the same blockage with most of the music of Gordon Jacob