TEIZO MATSUMURA (1929-2007): Silence.
Catalogue Number: 11M085
Description: Matsumura's opera is based on the most famous novel by Shusaki Endo; the 'silence' of the title is that of God in the face of human suffering and religious persecution (James MacMillan's Symphony No. 3 deals with the same subject and is dedicated to the memory of the novelist). It takes place in 17th-century Japan, and centers on the character of a Jesuit missionary and the descent into apostasy of those around him under appalling torture. Matsumura's music is firmly based in the Western tradition, in the case of this work even to the point of incorporating convincing liturgical a capella choral singing for dramatic effect at appropriate moments in the story. The music is basically tonal, with excursions into more dissonant modern idioms as dictated by the narrative; solo vocal lines stray outside the tonal framework to a greater degree than the choral and orchestral components of the work, providing a clue to the composer's background; mostly, though the work is best described as post-romantic in idiom, with a predilection for shimmering, impressionistic textures in the orchestration, and a directness of dramatic purpose and emotional content typical of a 20th-century continuation of the traditions of the grand opera. 2 CDs. No libretto. Soloists, Nikikai Chorus Group, Tokyo Philharmonic Chorus, Hibari Children Chorus, Shinsei Nippon Symphony Orchestra; Hiroshi Wakasugi.