Tuesday, December 29, 2009

KRAPP’S ENDGAME, by Shinji Eshima

Recently I had the great pleasure of hearing a great new work for bassoon, it was not enough that the piece was great but also two great local musicians and good friends were responsible for the project. The great bassoonist Steve Dibner commissioned and performed the latest work of the great bass player and composer Shinji Eshima, both bay area musicians. "KRAPP'S ENDGAME" for bassoon,string quartet, and optional Buddhist monk was composed for Mr.Dibner who asked for a piece that somehow expressed the writings of Samuel Beckett, specifically his one-man play "Krapp's Last Tape". In this play, a man is reviewing his life through recordings he has made of himself on each of his birthdays, chronicling his achievements and goals throughout the years. He comes to the conclusion that instead, he should have spent his life experiencing love and human touch. The last section of Mr. Eshima's work is inspired by Allen Ginsberg's poem Song." The following is an excerpt:
The weight of the world
is love.
Under the burden
of solitude,
under the burden
of dissatisfaction
the weight,
the weight we carry
is love.
This is Mr. Eshima's offering as a "solution" to Krapp"s circumstance.

The opening statement in the piece is marked "Crying despair" this marking should give you a clue to how powerful the work is, I was mesmerized by the emotional content of the work, Mr. Dibner played with such passion that he almost had me in tears, this does not let down thru most of the piece, Mr. Eshima makes use of the wide range of the bassoon effectively and passionately, bending the high register and alternating fingerings for a great effect. Just when you think nothing else can happen all of a sudden the quartet starts to chant while they play, all of theses effects are not gimmicks but help tell a story. This is a deep work almost spiritual. The work is accessible to most advanced bassoon players on a technical level, however on a emotional level one may have to have a bit of life experiences to get the most out of it. I highly recommend this work. Bravo and thank you Mr. Eshima and Mr. Dibner for this new exciting bassoon piece.....Rufus Olivier

You can find this piece at: trevcomusic@msn.com www.trevcomusic.com

SHINJI ESHIMA, a graduate of Stanford University and of the Juilliard School, he is currently a double-bassist in the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and associate principal with the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra. He is on the faculty at San Francisco State University and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. As a composer, he composed the music for the 450 Geary Theater's production of "The Snow Queen," which ran for three seasons. The San Francisco Examiner described his music as "ranging from bucolic pipings to full scale ecclesiastical gothic..." In 1995, he was commissioned to write a piece commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing for which he wrote "August 6th." This premiered at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco on that anniversary. He composed two hymns for the Buddhist Churches of America which were published and were recorded by opera singers Elizabeth Bishop and Hector Velasquez. He also released a CD of his music based on Buddhist gathas. In 2000 the Ensemble en Sol in Mexico commissioned him to write a chamber piece which received its San Francisco premiere at a Donald Runnicles and Friends performance. In 2001 the percussion ensemble Adesso, premiered his "Generations" at the Old First Church. In 2002 Gary Karr premiered "Grat-etude" and Liben Publishers published another solo bass work "If it's tuesday it must be up-bow," a tribute to his former teacher, David Walter, along with a CD recorded by the composer. His trio "Despot's Rage a Slave's Revenge" for Violoncello, Marimba and Piano, composed for famed Bay Area 'cellist Emil Miland received its premiere in 2003 at Old First Church. His Trio C-E-B, "The Toadfish," written for the TRIAD Trio, Including Carey Bell, clarinet and Bryndon Hassman, piano as well as Emil Miland, had its premiere at the Noe Valley Chamber Series. His scores for Liebe Wetzel’s Lunatique Fantastique’s productions of “Nutcracker, Nutz and Boltz,” “Chicken Stock” and “E.O.9066” are performed at the Marsh Theater in San Francisco. In 2008 ERM Media selected his score for “August 6th” for string orchestra to be recorded by the Millennium Symphony and conducted by Robert Ian Winston. This CD, a compilations of several composers entitled “Made in the Americas” was released in 2009. Most recently, his piece “Krapp’s Endgame,” commissioned and composed for Steven Dibner, premiered also at Noe Valley in a benefit performance for the Daniel Pearl Foundation, and has subsequently been published by TrevCo Music in December 2009.

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