by Shingo Fujii
Generally speaking, the musical term ‘ritornello’ is used to describe the form and style of certain Baroque arias and concertos. However, the inspiration that moved me to compose this work was not that specific musical tradition, but a strong sympathy for the original meaning of this Italian word, ‘to return’. It reflects a deeply-held belief of mine: that the instinct to return to our places of origin, to our memories of the past, is a universal one. And that by returning to these places of our past, either physically or mentally, we believe we can find true happiness. As the title shows, this work consists of four movements. Although each movement reaches its own natural conclusion, the four movements work together to create a single large work. So while some movements should be played attacca, like seasons changing without interruption, others can have the tension-filled quietness between movements make the piece a continuous whole.
Each movement begins with a brief passage in unison. The first movement is a barcarole entitled ‘… verso il mare (to the sea)’. The second movement is ‘Tarantella’, a dance unique to Italian music; it symbolizes human activities and feasts rather than music. The third movement,‘Cantilena’, is not an elegy, but a song that calmly wishes for happiness. Unaccompanied passages by the soloists gently invite the tutti group to return to the music. The last movement is ‘…la fine e l’inzio (the end is the beginning)'. ‘Retournello’, which means to return, is expressed differently in this abstract title. This movement is an Italian old dance called saltarello. It carries this title to express the belief that a finale filled with delight will surely lead to a new beginning.