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|1. From Me Flows What You Call Time - T. TAKEMITSU|
|2. Twill By Twilight (In Memory Of Morton Feldman) For Orchestra - T. TAKEMITSU|
|3. Requiem (For String Orchestra) - T. TAKEMITSU|
Takemitsu (1930-96) is Japan's greatest composer. He had a diverse musical career, which included work for films. His music partakes of aspects of postmodernism--serial construction, atonal modalities, unusual instrumentation--and all of it hypnotic. The works on this disc are for a chamber-size orchestra and are illuminated by the smaller forces. From Me Flows What You Call Time (1990) brings to mind a set of delicate, atonal wind chimes. Twill by Twilight--In Memory of Morton Feldman (1988) reflects Feldman's juxtapositions and separations, but with a bit more color. Requiem (1957), Takemitsu's first orchestral work, is stunning and very beautiful. --Paul Cook
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Toru Takemitsu was Japan's foremost composer in the late 20th century, and yet his music rarely sounds blatantly Japanese. The only obvious traditional influences on this CD come at the very beginning of the first piece, Through Me Flows What You Call Time. This work opens with a flute solo that contains techniques from the shakuhatchi repertoire. But quickly, the material of this solo becomes more western, sharing with Messiaen a love of symmetrical scales and modal devices. The piece uses this first flute solo as the spring board to a thirty five minute concerto grosso for orchestra and percussion ensemble. The music is lush, very romantic and colorful. The tonal language reminds me of a mix of Debussy, Scriabin and Messiaen. The melodic material is based primarily on a five note motif from the beginning of the flute solo which morphs into myriad forms. The percussion writing is exquisite...dominated by flashes of bell and cymbal color as well as ostinati on the marimba and outbursts from steel drums. The orchestra lends support mostly, occasionally singing out in an almost chorale-like texture. This piece is absolutely lovely.
The second work on the CD is Twill by Twilight. The work seems almost a carbon copy of Time except that it doesn't include the percussion group. While I find nothing particularly objectionable about the work, it isn't distinct enough to compete with the impression made by the first work. In fact...another choice for the CD might have been in order. There gets to be a monotonous quality by the end of this work. The CD is rounded out by Takemitsu's first piece to make an international spalsh...Requiem for String Orchestra. This piece is more Bergian than the others, though it too is accessible and shaded with tonal moments. It is deeply felt and a quite moving work.
Takemitsu was an enormously popular person as a composer. Any musician who knew him has only great things to say about him. This greatness of spirit comes through in the best of his music. Time and Requiem are among the finest neo-romantic pieces around. If you like Debussy, or Rautavaara, you will certainly love these pieces. Highly recommended.
"Twill by Twilight" (for orchestra) is in memory of Morton Feldman, and I must say I think its better than anything I've heard by Morton Feldman.
"Requiem" (for string orchestra) is also a nice piece, but the real showstopper on this disc is "From Me Flows What You Call Time." Get the disc for that.
"From me flows what you call Time" (1990) for orchestra and five percussionists stands as one of Takemitsu's sure masterpieces. It might be called a concerto for percussion and orchestra, though that suggests some kind of opposition when in reality all elements of instrumentation seamlessly cooperate. The soloists' parts are very fascinating, especially when they play drums, giving a rougher tinge to the work rarely heard in the music of a composer more interested in glittery sounds. Towards the end the piece follows other works of this period ("Archipelago S.", "Ceremonial") in containing a spatial element: the percussionists play bells distantly located in various parts of the auditorium by means of coloured tape. "Twill by Twilight" (1988) was written in memory of Morton Feldman, and the title is both an allusion to Feldman's love of carpets and to Takemitsu's technique of textures that "weave" in and out of the piece, as well as a building up of the large from repetitions of the small as Feldman (in)famously did in his late pieces.
What is particularly amazing about the late Takemitsu is that he uses certain contemporary techniques, yet achieves a highly original effect different from all other composers. The pitches are generated with quasi-serialist techniques, and yet his music does not sound dry or academic, but rather highly transcendental. Timbre is a highly important element, but the result is more natural, suggestive of the outdoors, than the work of the spectralist composers. However, putting any two pieces from Takemitsu's late period together on disc is not ideal, as they are often too close stylistically and tend to dull the listener's senses. While beautiful in themselves, they don't do enough to distinguish themselves from other pieces of the same era.
The last piece is from a very different era, however. "Requiem" for strings (1957) was Takemitsu's first orchestral work and brought him to fame outside Japan when Stravinsky championed him for it. It shows him still under the influence of Messiaen and is a very moving set of incisive string figures, which can often sound quite agressive but nonetheless never break major laws of tonality. Unlike in his late period, characterized by a general evenness of dynamic, Takemitsu was not afraid here of going from the softest touches to major crescendi, although he still had not discovered the importance of timbre.
For those who have never heard Takemitsu's music, as an introduction I'd recommend the QUOTATION OF DREAM disc in Deutsche Grammophon's "20/21" series, which still has the same problem of putting Takemitsu's late works together, but which contains a whole world of interesting discoveries if you can manage to listen to each piece in isolation. Still, if you've come to enjoy the music of this singular voice in 20th century music, this Sony disc is a good find, and it's a budget purchase.