Author Topic: Takemitsu: Sounds as intense as silence  (Read 15487 times)

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bwv 1080

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Takemitsu: Sounds as intense as silence
« on: July 25, 2007, 05:10:15 PM »
Pretty cool description from the liner notes in recent DG re-release Garden Rain

Copied from the old forum


A good overview from http://www.soundintermedia.co.uk/treeline-online/biog.html

Quote
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tiny, delicate man, standing just over 5ft high, Takemitsu was a giant in Japanese cultural life and in international contemporary music. He wrote hundreds of works for the concert platform, as well as 93 film scores, a detective novel and critical works on music, film and literature. A leading intellectual, he also had an insatiable appetite for popular culture. He was a fanatical cinema-goer, and had an encyclopaedic knowledge of Western pop music. He had a famous sense of humour and a prodigious gift for friendship, counting among his close friends John Cage, Morton Feldman, Oliver Knussen, Seiji Ozawa and many other leading artists and musicians.
 
Influences
 
'I am self taught, but I consider Debussy my teacher'

'My teachers are Duke Ellington and nature'

-'I have recognised my own culture through studying modern Western music'.

'I feel a deep reverence for the precise workings and the great order in nature, and still wish to learn more from nature as I compose music'

As a young man, Takemitsu had a long illness, and lay for several years in bed listening to post-war American military radio. This instilled a knowledge and love of jazz and for Western classical music. From Debussy, who impressed him particularly, he identified 'colour, light and shadow' as important elements. This pervades all of his music, but is most explicit in Green for orchestra, which he described as 'an attempt to enter the secrets of Debussy's music'

He assimilated influences from Western Avant Garde music. Sonic experimentation from Stockhausen and Cage, precision and economy from Morton Feldman, opulent colours and ecstatic sensuality from Messiaen.

Only gradually did Takemitsu, in common with many other Japanese artists after the second world war, acknowledge influences from Japanese traditional culture in his work. Gradually, however, he began to allow Japanese traditional sounds and a more explicitly Japanese sensibility into his music November Steps is a concerto for biwa (Japanese lute) and shakuhachi (bamboo flute), and In an Autumn Garden is a major work for Gagaku, the Japanese court orchestra. Characterised by a haunting and seemingly endless melody played on flutesryteiki, hichiriki (shawms) backed by mouth organs (sho) and drums.

Nature is a constant background to Takemitsu's music, and is reflected in many of his titles: Rain Coming, Tree Line, How Slow the Wind, Toward the Sea, Archipelago S, All in Twilight, In the Woods, And Then I Knew 'twas Wind

As a guitarist, I am grateful for his substantial contributions to the repertiore  which include All in Twilight, Toward the Sea (gtr + alto flute), Equinox and Folios.  His solo piano music such as Rain Tree Sketches I & II is also excellent.  On the orchestral side, I Hear the Water Dreaming is a great piece.  He also has some of the coolest piece titles. He also wrote 93 film scores, including Kurosawa's "Ran".  His musical language was heavily influenced by Debussy and Ravel but also reflects the influence of Messiaen, Boulez and Webern but with a unique Japanese sensitivity.

Offline Brewski

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Re: Takemitsu: Sounds as intense as silence
« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2007, 08:44:32 AM »
I love Takemitsu, although I've heard more of his chamber music, e.g., Quatrain II, and the Rain Tree sketches you mentioned for piano.

Around age 16 I bought the LP below, with Asterism, Requiem, Green and The Dorian Horizon, with Ozawa and Toronto, and played it all the time.  And the music to Ran was marvelous, although I haven't listened to it other than with the film.

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Offline Maciek

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Re: Takemitsu: Sounds as intense as silence
« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2007, 12:24:26 PM »
I love Takemitsu too. :D 8) Though I must admit he is one of the very few composers who I can't listen to unless I'm in the right mood. Unless that requirement is met, his music irritates me terribly. Actually, at the moment I can't think of another composer with whom I have the same problem... ???

lukeottevanger

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Re: Takemitsu: Sounds as intense as silence
« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2007, 12:38:34 PM »
....ooh, I can!

Seriously, Takemitsu is a very important composer for me, for all sorts of reasons. I do think there are few composers who can write music as sheerly beautiful as his - those who think modern music is of necessity ugly simply don't know they are born! In all sincerity, in simple sonic terms there is nothing in all music as ravishing as, say, From me flows what you call time, which seems to me to go about as far as music can go in its particular direction. The danger is that the music becomes too sensuous and loses its spine - this is not to say that it needs to be faster, louder or more abrasive, but that it skirts with becoming inconsequential unless there is more substance there - in the piece I've cited, which I am loathe to criticise, the motivic material holding it all together is possibly stretched pretty thin. But in other works, Takemitsu's finest, this is not a problem, and everything is held in miraculous balance.

Sean

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Re: Takemitsu: Sounds as intense as silence
« Reply #4 on: July 26, 2007, 10:36:17 PM »
Luke, I remember the CBSO did that one in concert early 1998, but I've never heard it; I've explored about 14 works and find him quite an acquired taste, often needing some patience with all that interest in timbre, a little like Kurtag? I did like his film music for Rising sun with Sean Connery!

bwv 1080

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Re: Takemitsu: Sounds as intense as silence
« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2007, 04:56:00 AM »
And its not like all Takemitsu is ephemeral.  All in Twilight and Folios have quite rhythmicly interesting moments.  Rain Tree Sketches for piano does as well.  But I take Luke's point about the sparseness of the motivic material.  Thinking of pieces like Flock decends into the Pentagonal Garden or I Hear the Water Dreaming or Equinox.  It is perhaps a indicator of his skill as a composer that he can make such great pieces out of a short gesture - and stands him in contrast with his contemporaries whose work has little or no underlying motivic structure.

That being said, there probably is a correlation between the constant rain we have been having here this summer and the increased amount of Takemitsu in my CD changer.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2007, 04:58:21 AM by bwv 1080 »

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Takemitsu: Sounds as intense as silence
« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2010, 08:54:02 PM »
I'm starting to get a big into Takemitsu. I ordered some recordings (one of which is out-of-print and very rare Ozawa conducting November Steps, Viola Concerto, etc.).
 
What fascinates me about Takemitsu is the way he bends time and his overall wonderful approach to harmony. It's interesting that he is seen as an extension to Debussy, but at the same time, I can't help but agree. Those wonderful sounds he's able to conjure up through his superb orchestration are otherworldly.
 
He's definitely a composer who's been "under my radar" for quite some time. I wonder why this thread hasn't received more replies? Very curious....
« Last Edit: October 18, 2010, 09:50:34 PM by Mirror Image »
"Music should be able to invoke the natural emotions in all human beings. Music is not notes fixed on apiece of paper.” - Toru Takemitsu

snyprrr

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Re: Takemitsu: Sounds as intense as silence
« Reply #7 on: October 19, 2010, 08:27:01 PM »
I love Takemitsu too. :D 8) Though I must admit he is one of the very few composers who I can't listen to unless I'm in the right mood.

See the Feldman Thread!

snyprrr

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Re: Takemitsu: Sounds as intense as silence
« Reply #8 on: October 19, 2010, 08:28:14 PM »
Yea, yea, I love Takemitsu too, and all that. :-* Just don't ask me to define a piece.

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Re: Takemitsu: Sounds as intense as silence
« Reply #9 on: November 13, 2010, 01:49:03 AM »
Some of the original vinyl LP jackets are beautiful








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Offline Maciek

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Re: Takemitsu: Sounds as intense as silence
« Reply #10 on: April 11, 2011, 01:27:36 PM »
Have all of these been re-released on CD?

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Takemitsu: Sounds as intense as silence
« Reply #11 on: April 11, 2011, 02:46:35 PM »
One of my favorite Takemitsu works is his Viola Concerto. Has anyone heard this work? If I'm not mistaken, the only recording of this fantastic concerto is the sadly out-of-print Ozawa recording on Philips. Anyone with an interest in this composer should seek this recording out. You may find a copy in the used market, but I bought mine for around $15 and this isn't cheap. I'm not sure what it goes for now.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2011, 02:48:11 PM by Mirror Image »
"Music should be able to invoke the natural emotions in all human beings. Music is not notes fixed on apiece of paper.” - Toru Takemitsu

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Re: Takemitsu: Sounds as intense as silence
« Reply #12 on: April 11, 2011, 03:30:45 PM »
One of my favorite Takemitsu works is his Viola Concerto. Has anyone heard this work? If I'm not mistaken, the only recording of this fantastic concerto is the sadly out-of-print Ozawa recording on Philips. Anyone with an interest in this composer should seek this recording out. You may find a copy in the used market, but I bought mine for around $15 and this isn't cheap. I'm not sure what it goes for now.

Are you talking about A String Around Autumn? It has been released on BIS with Philip Dukes playing the solo part and Tadaaki Otaka conducting the BBC NOW. I actually like the piano concerto "riverrun" much more (it is on the same disk), personally, but A String Around Autumn was a lovely work.
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Takemitsu: Sounds as intense as silence
« Reply #13 on: April 11, 2011, 03:33:38 PM »
Are you talking about A String Around Autumn? It has been released on BIS with Philip Dukes playing the solo part and Tadaaki Otaka conducting the BBC NOW. I actually like the piano concerto "riverrun" much more (it is on the same disk), personally, but A String Around Autumn was a lovely work.

Yes, that's the one. I couldn't think of the concerto's name. I haven't heard the piano concerto "riverrun," so I can't comment. I need to familiarize myself with Takemitsu some again. I'll checkout that BIS recording. How are the performances?
"Music should be able to invoke the natural emotions in all human beings. Music is not notes fixed on apiece of paper.” - Toru Takemitsu

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Re: Takemitsu: Sounds as intense as silence
« Reply #14 on: April 11, 2011, 04:12:54 PM »
Yes, that's the one. I couldn't think of the concerto's name. I haven't heard the piano concerto "riverrun," so I can't comment. I need to familiarize myself with Takemitsu some again. I'll checkout that BIS recording. How are the performances?

They're all top notch performances. My only quip is that they don't sound as detailed as similar performances by the London Sinfonietta, but the sound is still spectacular.
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Re: Takemitsu: Sounds as intense as silence
« Reply #15 on: April 12, 2011, 04:15:33 AM »
Dare I say, Takemitsu was also a prolific composer for film (over 100 scores). I love his work on the classic Kurosowa film Ran, which is a sort of King Lear in feudal Japan. Actually, just about everything in that film is intriguing.
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Re: Takemitsu: Sounds as intense as silence
« Reply #16 on: April 12, 2011, 04:37:07 AM »
Dare I say, Takemitsu was also a prolific composer for film (over 100 scores). I love his work on the classic Kurosowa film Ran, which is a sort of King Lear in feudal Japan. Actually, just about everything in that film is intriguing.
\
Agreed.  Mieko Harada plays the greatest female villain I've ever seen on film.  She out-nasties the two older daughters in Lear.

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Re: Takemitsu: Sounds as intense as silence
« Reply #17 on: April 12, 2011, 04:58:41 AM »
Ran is an excellent movie in many respects, with awesome photography and as others have pointed out, a great soundtrack. But for Kurosawa, my preference will have to go to Kagemusha, which is visibly more primitive than Ran, but the story and narrative are even better.
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snyprrr

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Re: Takemitsu: Sounds as intense as silence
« Reply #18 on: April 30, 2012, 11:10:10 AM »
I finally got a hold of my stash of 7-8 Takemitsu discs (in storage). Once again, I was faced with hours upon hours of post-Debussyian hospital music,... I thought.

I went straight for the Sony disc, with the percussion and orchestra piece From Me Flows What You Call Time, since, I thought the added percussion would make this a livelier TT piece. I'm afraid I wasn't able to stay in the room the whole time, but I still don't recall hearing any loud outbursts from the other room.

I also pulled out the Williams' Sony disc with the two guitar concertos, but these too are very very laid back. Only the double concerto Gemeaux (flute & trombone (with Lindberg!)) had a harder edge to it, but, haha, when I think about it, this only made Takemitsu sound like late Xenakis,... haha, 'hard' Takemitsu is like 'softer' Xenakis,... I'm thinking especially of Xenakis's friendliest sounding late works such as the trombone concerto Troorkh.

Anyhow, I hear that earlier Takemitsu pieces such as Arc and Green have a harder, '60s quality to them. Does anyone have these?

Takemitsu just sounds so much like Messiaen on morphine to me (Messiaen+Feldman?). He's got the same harmonies as the French master, but with an essentially static rhythm. I forever feel like his music belongs where the evening clouds part revealing the moon,... it's the same effect I get when you play parallel minor chords,... very Debussyian,... no doubt many of his works seem to blend together sonically after a while.

Still, only 1 Page on Takemitsu? :'(

snyprrr

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Re: Takemitsu: Sounds as intense as silence
« Reply #19 on: April 30, 2012, 11:14:25 AM »
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