CD1, CD2, CD3, CD4.
AUTUMN - into the fall after a little while, for Biwa, Shakuhachi & Orchestra (1973)
A WAY A LONE II for String Orchestra (1981)
I HEAR THE WATER DREAMING for Flute & Orchestra (1987)
TWILL BY TWILIGHT for orchestra (1988) (in Memory of Morton Feldman)
Katsuya Yokoyama, Shakuhachi
Kakujo Nakamura, biwa
Hiroshi Koizumi, flute
Ryusuke Numajiri, conductor
Recording dates: 22-26 July 1996
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Toru Takemitsu: ORCHESTRAL WORKS III
1. AUTUMN - into the fall after a little while, for biwa, shakuhachi and orchestra (1973)
Takemitsu composed many works on the theme of autumn.
The main musical material of the work is the motif consisting of a minor second and a tritone which appears following the 4-bar introduction (Index 2). These intervals are obviously intended to clarify the cultural-historical features of the biwa and the shakuhachi. But at the same time they are the key intervals in the passage of Schoenberg's development from tonality to free atonality and on to dodecaphony. These sounds which have transformed Western music during the twentieth century provide a point of contact between the orchestra on the one hand and the biwa and shakuhachi on the other, thereby enabling the music to develop along organic lines.
The work as a whole can be divided roughly into a sequence of sections comprising introduction, exposition, development, recapitulation and coda. But the internal structure of the music might better be described as developmental variation. The two intervals of a minor second and a tritone are combined in various ways, sometimes melodically and at other times constituting thick clusters which evoke the idea of "rivers of sound" (Indexes 3, 5) in a continuing process of variation. Takemitsu employs many impressive sound textures here: note in particular the phenomenally difficult oboe solo in which the player is called upon to execute glissandos in imitation of the minor second motif (Index 3, played here by Masashi Honma, the oboe soloist in Gemeaux) and the trombone solo (Index 4) reminiscent of free jazz. The tritone motif loses its prominence in the recapitulation, suggesting that an irrevocable change has occurred.
The biwa and the shakuhachi are given two cadenzas in the development and the recapitulation sections (Indexes 7, 9).
2. A WAY A LONE II for string orchestra (1981)
This work is an arrangement for string orchestra of A way a lone, which Takemitsu composed to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the Tokyo String Quartet.
The theme is presented at the outset of the work. This is followed by a set of free variations much in the manner of jazz improvisation. This impression is reinforced by Takemitsu's stylish use of occasional jazz harmonies within the strictly conceived developmental process of the work. On the other hand, the intricate writing and the diversity of tone colour bring to mind the music of the Second Viennese School.
There is nothing in the score to clarify the start of each variation, but the index numbers are employed here to indicate the formal divisions of the work into theme, four variations and coda. The main thematic elements are three pitches separated by semitones, a leap of a diminished fifth, a leap of a perfect fourth, and the intervals of major and minor thirds. One of these elements is emphasised in each of the ensuing four variations.
The work has two basic tempos, Tempo I at quaver equals 104 and Tempo II at quaver equals approximately 72. The tempo varies constantly between these two tempos with rallentandos and accelerandos. For instance, the work begins at Tempo I with presentation of the basic material. After changing to the slower Tempo II at bar 10, the diminished fifth interval and the three adjacent semitones are brought out once again. The music then returns to Tempo I at bar 14 for a development of the thematic material. The fourth variation (Index 5) begins intricately at Tempo I in a canonical manner, but the opening motion soon reappears in expanded guise at Tempo II. The fifth and final variation (Index 6) is written entirely at Tempo II, perhaps in order to express the slow division into triplets. The coda (Index 7) is dominated by a figure consisting of the pitches F, E and B and brings the work to a surprisingly sweet-toned conclusion.
3. I HEAR THE WATER DREAMING for flute and orchestra (1987)
Written for the flautist Paula Robison, this is Takemitsu's only work for flute and orchestra. Nevertheless, it is quite clear that the flute was an instrument for which Takemitsu had a special affection. He composed many chamber works featuring the flute, beginning with the early Mask (1959-60) and ending with the solo Air (1995), completed shortly before his death.
I hear the water dreaming is structured in an approximation of sonata form. The opening first theme and the transitional theme B (Index 3) show clearly Takemitsu's indebtedness to Debussy. The first theme also seems to find a later evocation in Air, Takemitsu's last completed work. (Hiroshi Koizumi, the soloist in this performance, presented a moving rendition of Air before more than two thousand mourners at Takemitsu's funeral.) In the exposition, the first theme undergoes an extended development after the appearance of transitional theme A (Index 2). While carrying overtones of Debussy, transitional theme B then appears in a manner suggestive also of early jazz. The flute then presents the second theme (Index 4), which revolves around a major triad. In the section corresponding to the codetta, a fragment of the first theme is brought out powerfully with the addition of other instruments (oboes, clarinets and trumpets) to the flute solo (Index 5).
In the development section (Index 6), beginning with transitional theme B, variations on the first theme are followed by transitional theme A, which appears in the exposition as a falling chromatic scale but is presented here in a varied rising figuration to introduce the second theme. In the cadenza (Index 7), the low strings, with their Bartok pizzicatos, and the contrabassoon create a sharp and heavy texture. The recapitulation (Index 8) begins with the second theme. The first theme is partially brought back on several occasions, but the memorable opening of this theme provides the material for the closing coda (Index 9).
4. TWILL BY TWILIGHT - In Memory of Morton Feldman for orchestra (1988)
The silences composed by Morton Feldman (1926-87) were exceptionally beautiful. Feldman's music consists of carefully selected sounds which seem to emerge out of silence, repeat themselves, and then retreat back into the silence whence they came. During his later years Takemitsu lost many of his valued friends and dedicated much of his music to their memory. Twill by Twilight is one such work.
The subdued repetition of the pitches A flat and B flat at the beginning itself seems like a homage to Feldman. Woodwinds and violins introduce the first theme (Index 2). The string ensemble then takes over from the woodwind ensemble to present the second theme (Index 3). The first theme then reappears for a short development (Index 4), after which the music enters the codetta (Index 5). Although the matieral here is related to the second theme, it incorporates a clear quotation from the Requiem for Strings of 1957.
The development section (Index 6) is relatively brief and incorporates towards the end a four-bar cadenza-like phrase given to the oboe with the marking "soloistic" (Index 7). In the recapitulation (Index 8) and the coda (Index 9), elements from the two themes, while retaining their contours, are subsumed beneath the repetition of the pitches A flat and B flat from the introduction. After a jazzy chorale, the music dissolves into silence as if continuing into infinity.
-Ito Oya (translated by Robin Thompson)