Gedatsu (a spirit delivered) (1985)

Basic Information
Japanese 解脱
German Gedatsu (Die Erlösung der Seele)
Opus 063
Year 1985
Category Orchestra/Concerto
Duration 17 min.
Instruments Version I: j-flute, orch. Version II: recorder, orch
Score information
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About this Work

«This concerto for Japanese transverse flutes (yokobue) and orchestra is based on the famous episode Gioh from one of the foremost classics of Japanese literature, the Heike Monogatari (Tales of the Heike, early 13th century).

«Gioh is a courtesan of the type known as shirabyōshi popular during the late Heian and Kamakura periods (11th and 12th centuries), among whose essential accomplishments were dancing and the singing of popular songs. She comes into favour with the great general Taira no Kiyomori, who bestows his affections on her. But no sooner has she reached a peak of happiness than Kiyomori begins to snub her. Gioh is stunned. In her despondency she seeks deliverance (gedatsu) from the impurity of the mundane through aspiration towards the transcendental realm of the Buddha.

«This is a very brief outline of the story of Gioh as it appears in the Heike Monogatari. In the present work I have created a sound poem in the form of a concerto in which I attempt to depict Gioh as she moves towards the Buddhist ideal of deliverance while reflecting on her glorious past.

«In 1984, the year before composing Gedatsu, I composed a symphonic poem entitled "Gioh" (1984/op. 60) based on the same text. These two are thus companion works, although whereas "Gioh" has the character of a symphonic poem, Gedatsu has a concerto-like character, being scored tor traditional Japanese transverse flutes (known generically as yokobue) and orchestra. The flutes which the soloist is called on to play include the ryūteki (the flute used primarily in the Tōgaku genre of Gagaku), the shinobue (a flute used mainly in folk music), and the nōkan (the flute employed in the music of the Nō theatre). In the central section, which is intended to represent Gioh reflecting on her illustrious past, the flute plays a melody from the genre of popular music dating from a millennium ago known as Imayō which has been handed down to the present in the world of Gagaku.

«Gedatsu was composed to a commission from the Horizonte Festival held in Berlin in 1984. It was first performed by the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra under Masaki Nakata and with Michiko Akao as the soloist.»

Maki Ishii