Lao Tzu (from Tao-teh Ching, chapter 50) (Ch) and Kotaro Takamura (Knife-Whetter) (J)
2S,2M, (pianist has singing role)
TAO (the way) is the second part of my Trilogy of the Last Day, a cycle of compositions about mortality. In this part the choir sings a text from Tao-teh Ching (‘The Classic of the Way and its Virtue’), written by Lao Tzu in the sixth century BC. The piano soloist ends the piece with a poem, ‘Knife-Whetter’, written about 2,500 years later by Kotaro Takamura (1883–1956). There is a kind of contradiction between the two texts: in Tao-teh Ching calm and emptiness dominate and, in the chosen fragment, invulnerability. But Takamura’s poem is primarily ominous.
This composition is based on a series of thirteen chords corresponding to the thirteen companions which Lao Tzu speaks of. I have made no attempt to relate to what is known as ‘music from the Far East’ or, even worse, ‘world music’.
This programme note may be reproduced free of charge in concert programmes with a credit to the composer.