Yasushi Akutagawa: Trinita Sinfonica


Composed during a period of Yasushi Akutagawa’s career where his music became influenced by some of the foremost Russian composers. Known as his ‘Sino-Soviet’ period (1947-57), Akutagawa went on cultural exchanges with the USSR and was made aware of the music of Dmitri Shostakovich and Dmitri Kabalevsky. Trinita Sinfonica was composed early during this period in 1948. Score for large orchestra plus piano and extensive percussion, the work shows the sheer range and flexibility of Akutagawa’s style. 


The Music

Set into three movements, Trinita Sinfonica is a good marker for where Akutagawa’s music was heading stylistically.


Movement I – Capriccio: Allegro

Opening with driving motor rhythms from the woodwind section, the bouncy opening makes way for the energetic string entry. Big outbursts from the brass bolster the music as the driving bassoon and lower strings keep charging forward. Between these louder sections lie quieter, more pensive sections. However, the bombastic character prevails for most of the movement, with the quick tempo and dramatic dynamics creating a truly thrilling movement of music. 


Movement II – Ninnerella: Andante

Opening with a soft bassoon solo that leads into a clarinet solo, the soft and rhapsodic style of this movement instantly brings your ear in. The longest of the three movements, Ninnerella is developed extensively through this rhapsodic structure which aims to get the most out of the music. The music builds towards a passionate climax that sees Akutagawa use the full forces of the orchestra. His use of damped dynamics brings across a softer side to his style, with the rich harmonic language sitting at the forefront of this movement. Full of intensity and drama, this middle movement lays at the very core of Trinita Sinfonica. 


Movement III – Finale: Allegro assai

Opening with a burst of chords from across the orchestra, the finale starts with an exciting bang. The edgy melody paired with Akutagawa’s daring orchestrations make this perhaps the most thrilling movement of the three. Celebratory in nature and quintessentially Akutagawa, the Finale is passionate, driving in energy and full of twists and turns. Solo woodwind lines pierce the texture as the quick tempo carries the music forward. The urgency towards the end of the movement is supported by the bombastic brass and loud percussion. Trinita Sinfonica concludes with repeated chords led by the brass before the final tutti chord is played with vigour. 


Ⓒ Alex Burns

Happy Reading!

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