© Stefaren, 2016

Yoshiaki Onishi — Vgf II

The title Vgf is an abbreviation that I derived from the word "vogelfrei". I rediscovered this word as it was used in an article written by a colleague and close friend of mine, Scott Gleason. In his evocations of the word (for example, "Within a home that is no home," and "Free as in liberated, but also free as in without rights."), I felt a kind of semiotic shift, where the familiar words were accorded significations that were opposite of my understanding of them. It was a moment dramatic of destabilization; familiar words are rendered impermanent and fragile.

In my Vgf series I am interested in the interplay of perceptions. Taking the implications of potential paradox and double valence of the word "vogelfrei" as hints, I sought to explore various diametrical relationships in this piece: similarity/dissimilarity, native/foreignness, and familiarity/unfamiliarity.

Furthermore, the idea behind the musical form of this work was brought about in part by a comment I received from a composer-colleague of mine, Stefan Beyer. After listening to my recent work for duo of tenor recorder and shakuhachi, he felt that the piece could have easily been longer, further exhausting the musical materials I used in that piece. The present piece is a reflection on that notion.

Vgf II is in four parts that are played with no pause in between. In the first part, entitled Récit./trans, the woodwind and brass players whisper through their instruments the deconstructed text from the "Homo Sacer" entry of the encyclopedic treatise “De verborum significatione” by Sextus Pompeius Festus. The title of the final part …frage is made intentionally vague, in that it could mean part of a French word “naufrage” (wreck or ruin), or a German word “Frage” (question).

Commissioned by Philharmonie Luxembourg, this work is dedicated to Lydia Rilling, conductor Emilio Pomàrico, and the musicians of Klangforum Wien.
—Yoshiaki Onishi, 2017

 in Werke
19 November 2017
5 p.m.
Luxembourg, Philharmonie Luxembourg, Salle de Musique de Chambre rainy days Concert Final UA

Three fundamentally different yet connected compositions resound in the final concert. Eva Reiter’s energetic string quartet In groben Zügen basks in instrumental noise(s) with as much relish as the new composition Vgf II by Yoshiaki Onishi, scored for the same ensemble as Quatre Chants pour franchir le seuil. In Gérard Grisey’s masterpiece, the differences between four different eras and cultures vanish in the face of death. But for Grisey, death does not mean the end but a new beginning. The journey through the world of the dead is followed by a "Berceuse", the music of a new dawn. (rainy days)

Eva Reiter — In groben Zügen
Yoshiaki Onishi — Vgf II
World premiere
Gérard Grisey — Quatre chants pour franchir le seuil

Katrien Baerts, Soprano
Peter Böhm, sound design
conductor: Emilio Pomàrico

Yoshiaki Onishi about his composition:
Yoshiaki Onishi — Vgf II