Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Takemitsu, Hamada, Toyama|
Genres: World Music, Jazz, Classical
Mid-period exploration and late-period stagnancy
Christopher Culver | 12/05/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This Denon CD with orchestral works by Toru Takemitsu is one of several that the label put out during the 1990s. All are now out of print, but at least in Europe, Brilliant Classics reissued *some* of the recorded pieces in a budget set. This particular installment has four works dating from two different eras of Takemitsu's career, his exploratory period of the 1960s, and the "sea of tonality" style which was to last from the mid-1970s until his death. Yuzo Toyama leads the Tokyo Municipal Symphony Orchestra.
Takemitsu spent more or less his entire career inspired by the undramatic flow and smooth surfaces of Messiaen and Debussy. "Coral Island" for soprano and orchestra (1962) thus comes as a shock, as it often sounds like the 1950s works of serialists Pierre Boulez (that composer's "Pli selon pli") and Jean Barraque (his "Sequence") in its angularities and the way each instrumental sound seems to burst forth. In a sense, this is an immature piece, an unsure engagement of mid-century modernism. Nevertheless, this setting of poems by Makoto Ooka does feature some fine moments, especially the "Accumulation" movements that come between the vocal ones. The third movement is titled "Accumulation 2 featuring 'Corona' for strings", holding within itself a piece Takemitsu had already written. "Corona II" for strings (1962) is this independent piece, which though only two minutes long makes for a very rich sound. Its score consists of three circular plastic sheets placed on top of each other, which gives the work an aleatoric dimension.
"The Dorian Horizon" for strings (1966) is an experiment in harmonies derived from the Dorian mode. There's quite a bit of eggheaded theory in this piece, and as a simple listening experience it is less satisying than most of Takemitsu's work. Still, it never ceases to amaze me how the composer's own perennial idiom shows through any experimentation he applied himself to.
Takemitsu's late music is characterized by its lack of forward motion and general tranquility. The composer was quite a fan of Japanese gardens, and it's easy to see these pieces as musical equivalents of such an environment. I have mixed feelings about the many works Takemitsu produced during these last two decades of his career, as one can detect a certain stagnancy, but perhaps demanding something radically new every time is to disrepect a certain Japanese aesthetic. "A Flock Descends into the Pentagonal Garden" for violin, cello, clarinet, piano and orchestra (1977) was the first work of this period, though its occasional sudden violence grips the listener's attention compared to later pieces, and there's a nice sense of resolution at the end. Unfortunately, "Archipelago S." for 21 players (1994) is one of the generic pieces of this era.
The big attraction of this disc, or the Brilliant Classics boxset, is "Coral Island". The other pieces remain fairly easily available on DG or BIS recordings."