CD1, CD2, CD3, CD4.
GEMEAUX for Oboe, Trombone, 2 Orchestras & 2 Conductors (1972-1986)
DREAM/WINDOW for Orchestra (1985)
SPIRIT GARDEN for Orchestra (1994)
Masashi Honma, oboe
Christian Lindberg, trombone
Ryusuke Numajiri, conductor
Recording dates: 25-29 July 1994
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GEMEAUX for oboe, trombone, two orchestras and two conductors
Commenced in 1971, Gemeaux was conceived as a work for two orchestras located spatially apart from one another, with Heinz Holliger and Vinko Globokar as the respective oboe and trombone soloists. The work consists of the following four sections:
As suggested by the title, the notion of the number 'two' pervades the work. There is also considerable influence from an excerpt from a poem by Shuzo Takiguchi entitled Handmade Proverbs:
Your eyes, your hands, your breasts . . .
You are twins in yourself.
The music is more a large-scale collection of chamber works than an orchestral work and requires of each performer an extremely high level of virtuosity.
It is a love story set to music depicting the plight of two beings who sometimes come into conflict with one another but who, through love, become one.
DREAM / WINDOW for orchestra
The title Dream / Window is taken from the Buddhist name of a Zen priest of the Muromachi Period, Muso (mu=dream, so=window) Soseki (1275-1351). Among the many famous gardens designed by Muso Soseki is that of the Saihoji Temple (popularly known as the 'Moss Temple') in Kyoto. My music has been profoundly influenced by Japanese historic gardens. For example, Arc for piano and orchestra (1963-66/ 76) and In an Autumn Garden in the complete version for gagaku orchestra (1979) were based on relatively concrete images of gardens.
How was I to describe Kyoto through this music? To transform Muso Soseki's moss-covered temple gardens into music is to grasp but an extremely small part of this complex urban space. In Kyoto a progressive tendency coexists with an entrenched conservatism, concealing a dynamism different from that of Tokyo or Osaka. Beneath the hushed serenity of Kyoto, the gears of change grind on and on without cease. At the core of my image of Kyoto is this struggle of such opposing tendencies. The name 'Muso' (i.e. Dream Window) seemed the perfect symbol for this struggle.
I use 'dream' and 'window' as metaphors for the two contradictory dynamisms of facing inwards and outwards. To make the inner and the outer resound simultaneously is the prime object of the music. Accordingly, it was necessary to alter the arrangement of the orchestra from the standard. A small ensemble (flute, clarinet and string quartet) is placed between the right and left string sections at the centre front. Yet this piece is not a concerto. This small ensemble is not only one part of the entire orchestra but also a microcosm symbolising an orchestra in and of itself. One might even call it an inner self. At the centre of the orchestra, four instruments (two harps, celesta and guitar) create a passageway of clear timbre as an intermediary between the outer and the inner. The brass, woodwind and percussion sections are positioned at the centre rear.
The form of this music resembles that of a dream. While the details are clearly defined, their arrangement is left up to the fortuities of the self-propelling narrative. While repeating itself and revealing itself in a seemingly incoherent manner like the fragments of a dream, the musical sequence gradually forms itself into a tonal image with D as the primary note.
SPIRIT GARDEN for orchestra
Spirit Garden was commissioned by the Hida Furukawa International Music Festival and so named as a metaphor for the sacred ground, endowed with an inviolable dignity, of the festival's home, Furukawacho, in Gifu Prefecture. At the same time, the title is intimately connected to the structure of the work.
The work is based on a twelve-note row from which three chords each of four notes are generated. These chords, accompanied by changes in tone colour (sometimes expanded, sometimes contracted), are an ever-present undercurrent, vibrating at the fundamental, from which a musical garden is composed.
The 'objects' of sound placed about the garden - in some cases the 'object' is the melody, in other cases it is fragments serving as the tone colour structure - are all derived from the basic raw material of the twelve-note row, and aim through use of that material at achieving a cosmological (musical) unity. The 'objects' of sound placed about the garden change their forms through the changes in the angle of viewing which result from moving around the garden.
Spirit Garden is not intended to be programme music. It is my experiment with and ongoing inquiry into orchestral colour and melody.
- Toru Takemitsu
Three Gardens: Orchestral Works by Toru Takemitsu
The attitude he brings to bear on his handling of the orchestra constitutes one of the principle criteria for assessing the work of a contemporary composer. As a medium which developed reflecting the hierarchical structure of European society at the time, the orchestra is essentially a single organic musical instrument in its own right. Whether to succeed to the nineteenth-century tradition by sacrificing the individuality of each performer in favour of submersion of individuality within the monolithic whole, or whether to seek a new modus vivendi for the orchestra appropriate to our own age and its sensibility: the approach to such matters adopted by a composer is a reflection of the way in which he apprehends the world about him.
Toru Takemitsu often likens the orchestra to a Japanese garden:
"Gardens in the kaiyu style [traditional Japanese gardens set around a lake and laid out in such a manner that they cannot be seen as a whole but have to be viewed from along a path] have an extremely elaborate beauty which extends to their finest details. However, the details do not strongly emphasise their own respective individualities, serving on the contrary to evoke an overall sense of harmony. Although anonymous, each detail in its most elaborate aspects at the same time reflects the whole, which might be considered as the world or the universe ... I see the orchestra as an organisation structured along similar lines to this type of garden. An orchestra consists of many musical instruments and performers, each perhaps possessing a different character and musical vision."
Takemitsu is thus striving in his work for orchestra to dismantle the orchestra as an entity unified by a single power structure and instead to create a new type of socio-musical environment in which each player can breathe naturally.
Although all three orchestral works featured on this disc are rooted in the concept of the garden, each also reveals Takemitsu's approach to the orchestra at the time of composition. Gemeaux is scored for a large, jostling ensemble consisting of two soloists (oboe and trombone) and two orchestras directed by two conductors. Whereas in this work Takemitsu attempts to call forth hitherto unknown aural experiences from the means at his disposal, in Dream/Window he creates transparent music which reflects the dynamism of the aural environment by establishing a sense of 'inner' and 'outer' spheres between two string groups set to the left and right of the performance area and by placing between them a small ensemble which plays a mediatory role. In Spirit Garden, the most recently composed work on the disc, Takemitsu employs a traditionally arranged orchestra while at the same time experimenting with the realisation of a structure modelled on that of the traditional Japanese garden.
Gemeaux was first performed in 1986 by the oboist Burkhardt Glatzner and the trombonist Vinko Globokar with the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Tadaaki Otaka and the New Japan Philharmonic conducted by Michiyoshi Inoue. The instrumentation employing two soloists and two orchestras directed by two conductors clearly makes it very difficult for this piece to gain a firm place in the orchestral repertoire. Takemitsu composed the first part of the work in 1972. However, the first performance, which had been scheduled for the following year, had to be cancelled on account of a financial dispute involving the members of the orchestras. Takemitsu thereafter continued making sketches for the work slowly over a period of thirteen years. He finally completed this vast work in just over six months in response to a commission for a new orchestral work from the Suntory Hall.
Takemitsu's use of this instrumentation was intended as a personal challenge. As is clear from a comparison with Dream / Window, which dates from the previous year, the string parts of both pieces are finely subdivided. But looking at the motion of the parts, whereas unisons are frequently used in Dream/Window, in Gemeaux the individual instruments are treated in an independent manner especially in the first half of the work, and play their own separate, relatively short motifs. Exchanges of figures and the intertwining of heterophonic melodies can be heard between the two orchestras. The score, which in the fullness of its detail looks very much like the work of a visual artist working in the field of miniatures, realises the composer's intention of 'writing sounds that I wish to hear in the future rather than sounds that I have previously heard in the past.'
The title Gemeaux (Gemini) was suggested by the following lines from a poetry anthology by the Japanese poet Shuzo Takiguchi entitled Tezukuri Kotowaza (Handmade Proverbs): 'Your eyes, your hands, your breasts: you are twins in yourself.' As suggested by this poem, human beings live constantly with this sense of dualism. Takemitsu strives not to achieve an immovable balance between this binary opposition but rather to envisage a notion of perpetual motion between the two poles. Gemeaux expresses this notion through the use of two similarly structured orchestras in the manner of a kind of romantic drama.
The first part, 'Strophe', is an introductory section depicting an undifferentiated, androgynous state. As if representing fetal movement in a mother's womb, the opening passage presented by the second orchestra features small undulations occurring over units made up of several bars. The solo oboe floats up into the foreground and performs phrases incorporating repetitions of a single note and portamentos. The solo trombone appears at this point; both soloists play passages of similar character. After this solo section there begins a section which brings to mind a radiant expanse of sea. Woodwinds, harps and cellos create a mysterious sound involving the repetition at as fast as possible a tempo of a fragment consisting of a few notes. The string instruments in both orchestras then engage in an exchange of motifs one bar in length, creating an impression of waves surging forward and ebbing back. An ear-grating chordal cluster sounds out to mark the entry into a section in which central place is given to the solo instruments. Although the two instruments play different pitches and rhythms, the melodic motion is essentially heterophonic. The cluster-like chord returns and the mysterious sound created by the repetition of melodic fragments reappears. The section ends with all the instruments converging on the pitch of E flat.
The second part, 'Genesis', reveals a process of differentiation. Following several undulating repetitions of the part of the opening section characterised by a motif consisting of four high pitches, the trombonist performs a solo incorporating a 'masculine' six-note motif consisting of widely spaced intervals. He is joined by other instruments and the six-note motif is repeated intermittently. In the next section, the first orchestra plays a clearly delineated melody with a somehow wistful quality. This gives way to a gently contoured oboe solo with a 'feminine' character. After a vortex of sound summoned forth by the tutti ensemble, the first orchestra presents a fluid acoustic texture which brings to mind the texture of Debussy's La Mer. The second orchestra then comes to the forefront and the trombonist plays a solo full of leaps and incorporating the 'masculine' motif. The first orchestra then resuscitates the earlier wistful melody and the fluid texture reminiscent of La Mer.
In the third part, Traces', the two orchestras exchange roles. The music of this section as a whole is put together from minimal elements, namely a bright-sounding broken ascending chord consisting of an accumulation of thirds and fourths, a melody which begins with stepwise motion, and heavy chords including augmented intervals. In distinction to the earlier music, the solo oboe is accompanied here by the second orchestra and the solo trombone by the first orchestra.
The fourth part, 'Antistrophe', depicts the dissolution of binary opposition and the achievement of unity. The finely contoured rhythmic motion of the first orchestra acquires even greater clarity of contour and melodic fragments and chords used earlier in the work reappear. Following solo passages from oboe and trombone, the two orchestras come together in unity and the work ends on a radiant consonance.
DREAM / WINDOW
The distinctiveness of the acoustic space in Dream/Window, composed in 1985 to a commission from the Kyoto Shinkin Bank, comes from the unusual placement of the orchestra. The instrumentation incorporates a small ensemble consisting of flute, clarinet and string quartet (symbolising the 'inner' sphere) set at the front centre of the orchestra; a 'mediatory' group of instruments of crystalline tone colour consisting of two harps, celesta and guitar; and an ensemble including brass, woodwind, percussion and strings separated into two groups to left and right (symbolising the 'outer' sphere). The work progresses on the basis of a continuing exchange between the instrumental groups. In the introductory section, the instrumental group symbolising the 'outer' sphere presents ascending broken chords consisting of an accumulation of fourths and thirds and a motif consisting of a repetition of two chords. The small ensemble symbolising the 'inner' sphere then at last comes into action. The strings provide a harmonic accompaniment to the fleet motion of the woodwind instruments; both woodwinds and strings play chords. The music is dominated by such textures at this point. The string ensemble symbolising the 'outer' sphere provides its support by means of distinctive harmonies incorporating tremolos and harmonics. Figures eventually begin to flow from the 'inner' sphere into the 'outer' sphere and vice versa, all the figures eventually becoming subsumed within the motion of the 'outer' sphere. The title of the work is taken from the name of Muso Soseki (1275-1351), a Zen monk of the Rinzai sect who lived at the end of the Kamakura Period and the beginning of the Muromachi Period and was responsible for creating several of the most famous temple gardens in Kyoto: the name Muso is written with two Chinese characters meaning 'dream' (pronounced mu in the Sino-Japanese reading) and 'window' (so in the Sino-Japanese reading). This title alludes to the manner in which fragments of sound appear and reflect one another constantly in dreamlike fashion.
This work was first performed in July 1994 by the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra under Hiroshi Wakasugi. It was commissioned by the Hida Furukawa International Music Festival. The town of Hida Furukawa, which is situated at the northern tip of Gifu Prefecture, decided many years ago to place music at the centre of its cultural promotion policy and has regularly presented a music festival to which many performing groups have been invited. The Hida Furukawa Music Grand Prix was instituted in 1989, and its first recipient was Toru Takemitsu. Takemitsu says that he composed this work under the influence of the visual aspect of this town and the drum music performed in the context of the town's spring festival.
The work as a whole is dominated by a twelve-tone series consisting in its basic form of the pitches A, B flat, E, E flat, D, A flat, G, F sharp, C, B, C sharp and F. This tone row is constituted so as to consist of three augmented triads plus one extra pitch by taking every third note beginning with the first to the third (i.e. (1) A, E flat, G and B: augmented triad consisting of E flat, G and B plus A; (2) B flat, D, F sharp, C sharp: augmented triad consisting of B flat, D, F sharp plus C sharp; (3) E, A flat, C, F: augmented triad consisting of E, A flat and C plus F). The three resulting chords constitute the three main formative elements of the music.
The main feature of the basic tone row is the predominance of adjacent intervals of a second and intervals of augmented and diminished fifths. Takemitsu also employs a twelve-tone series featuring pairs of descending minor third intervals, each pair being followed by the same interval a whole tone lower, the two sets of six alternate pitches thus constituting two whole tone scales (i.e. D, B, C, A, B flat, G, A flat; F, F sharp, E flat, E, C sharp). The eight pitches at the beginning of the work are taken systematically from this tone row.
After repetition of a motif consisting of the pitches D, B, C and D, two ascending broken chords each consisting of four pitches ([D, F sharp, C sharp, F and A] and [u, E, A flat, D and F sharp]) appear to the accompaniment of the celesta. These chords subsequently reappear throughout the work. The central theme appears twice following these chords. The theme, a descending figure and the four-note motif consisting of the pitches D, B, C and D are modulated and repeated with varying tone colours, the music thereby taking on a form similar to that of a rondo. These elements are placed on the forward trajectory in the manner of sculptural objects. The music for solo woodwind instruments which appears during this section incorporates motifs again reminiscent of Debussy.
Takemitsu states that he composed this work with the concept of the optical illusion in mind, more specifically the idea of an assembly of identical objects whose quantity appears to vary depending on the angle from which one views them. This would seem to suggest that each of the 'objects' or elements from which the work is constituted plays a part in several related tone rows or at a nodal point in chord formations. On first hearing, this work seems to adopt a tonal, extremely classical style, but closer examination shows that it is in reality based on a highly abstract system. The two broken chords which rise up to a background provided by the sound of drums have a wistful and nostalgic quality, but it is precisely at this point in the work that one realises that Takemitsu's orchestral garden is not structured along traditional hierarchical lines but constitutes a cosmological unity on its own terms.
- Miyuki Shiraishi