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Thread: Toru Takemitsu

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    Default Toru Takemitsu

    Yes I am wondering if anyone else enjoys listening to Takemitsu's works? I find his music to have a sense of timelesness. He kind of reminds me of a Japanese Debussy/Messiaen. His piano works especially the Rain Tree Sketches are just awesome pieces of music to relax too. His A Flock Desends Into the Pentagonal Garden is again just a awesome piece of music. He definitely uses impressionistic colors along with his own unique style. I like the way he uses eastern and western instruments and style within his music. I have mainly listened to his orchestral works so far like Requeim for Strings, Dreamtime, Spirit Garden, etc. Is there any other works that I should try out? He is definitely not a hard composer to listen to.

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    Senior Member Ephemerid's Avatar
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    Oh, I LOVE Takemitsu! In fact I got a few CDs of his this past Christmas...

    I love his sense of colour. Tree Line is probably my favourite of his. I think I prefer his orchestral works over his chamber works, though there are a couple exceptions-- his pice for flute, viola and harp, "And Then I Knew 'Twas Wind" is really beautiful.

    Have you heard Oliver Knussen's recordings? There's a CD, "Quotation of Dream" with a bunch of orchestral pieces of his that are superb!

    "Garden Rain" for brass is a really good one too (one of the first pieces of his I ever heard, unless you count the soundtrack to Ran).

    *whew!* I was beginning to think I was the only one that ever listened to him here! LOL
    "There is no theory. You have only to listen. Pleasure is the law.” ~ Claude Debussy

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    I feel that way to sometimes. Where are all the contemporary classical fans? I'll have to check out Oliver Knussen's recording of Takemitsu's orchestral works out. He is definitely one composer that should be more popular, like most later 20th century composers, beh, :angry: Philip Glass. I will definitely delve into more of Takemitsu's works.

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    Senior Member Ephemerid's Avatar
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    Knussen did another CD collection of Takemitsu's music-- I believe the CD was called Waterways, containing a lot of chamber orchestra stuff-- and includes an excellent recording of Tree-Line. That and the Quotation from Dream album are solid (its on the DG label).

    The piece "Quotation of Dream" actually has snippets of Debussy's La Mer that come and go-- its a strange experience because its comes and goes so seamlessly with Takemitsu's own unique musical language, it has a really odd effect on me.

    I find Takemitsu to usually be quite accessible...

    Have you seen Akira Kurosawa's film Ran? Its one of my personal favourite films (King Lear retold in feudal Japan) and Takemitsu did the soundtrack. The scene with the destruction of the third castle has the most haunting music juxtaposed against such terrible violence. Great music, great film.

    Yeah, I have a serious problem with Philip Glass-- the earlier and more edgy stuff (like Einstein on the Beach) was quite good, but beginning with Satyagraha in 1980, its all been a bit... um... repetitive! LOL When you compare the list of compositions with Steve Reich or John Adams, its absurd. The only more recent exception was his fifth string quartet done in the mid-90s, to a limited degree. It's surprising he still has an audience-- his music has been self-parody for over thirty years now...
    "There is no theory. You have only to listen. Pleasure is the law.” ~ Claude Debussy

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    I will definitely have to check out "Quotation of Dream" for La Mer is definitely one of my favorite unofficial symphonic works by anyone. That is interesting that Takemitsu uses snippets of Debussy's music. Luciano Berio imitated La Mer in his Sinfonia, another awesome piece of music. I will try to find a way to check out Ran, both the film and the music.

    To me Philip Glass has used his same general themes over and over again. Some of his music is just about as good as those dime romance novels. His earlier stuff is what made him famous.

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    Senior Member Tapkaara's Avatar
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    I am a fan of Japanese music in general and I have sort of a love/hate relationship with Takemitsu-sensei.

    I don't listen to him often because I find his sound difficult. This is definitely a composer of texture and not of melody. Not that a cut-and-dry tune is requisite for good music...

    Every now and again if I am in JUST the right mood, I can pop him into the CD player and I get it. But these moods come and go, and only appear a few times a year.

    I have a disc of his piano music which I think is very good. He wrote well for the piano and his style translates well to that medium.

    I recently saw his Dream/Window performed live in Kalamazoo and I must say I enjoyed the performance immensely. Watching his music performed live shows how complex his orchestral writing was and this left quite an impression on me.
    "Music is not philosophy." --Akira Ifukube

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    Like Tapkaara suggests, Takemitsu's music is somewhat of an acquired taste. He doesn't just spoonfeed the listener with easily digestible tunes & melodies. His music reminds me of a quote by Edgard Varese:

    "I am not a musician. I work with rhythms, frequencies and intensities. Tunes are the gossips in music."

    Takemitsu's music can be rewarding, though, with it's rich colours & textures. I think he just puts the ball in the listener's court, so to speak. He just presents us with this kaliedoscopic experience which we have to get off our backsides & make sense of. So Takemitsu is definitely a composer I kind of struggle with, but (like the music of Varese), this is a rewarding experience.

    & he definitely had a unique voice. His is a very post-modernist aesthetic. He takes a variety of European influences (eg. Debussy, Messiaen) & combines these with a distinctly oriental viewpoint, one where less is more. His music has touches of impressionism, modernism & the C20th avant-garde, but it sounds quite fresh, and speaks to us in a language which is much more contemporary than those movements.

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    Senior Member Tapkaara's Avatar
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    All good points, Andre.

    Yup, not an easy composer, but certainly one of the few avant-gardists I can stand.

    If you ever do any reading on the man and his personality, it's quite interesting. He was quite the bon vivant who loved life and had many, ecclectic interests. He also seems to have been rather humble about his art, which I think is a the mark of a decent person and artist.
    Last edited by Tapkaara; May-11-2009 at 18:36.
    "Music is not philosophy." --Akira Ifukube

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    Senior Member Herzeleide's Avatar
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    As I've said before, I recommend his piece All in Twilight - there's nothing difficult about it. Here's the first movement:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r5ubxr0UUC8

    I can also recommend To the Edge of Dream.

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    Senior Member Edward Elgar's Avatar
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    What a god! I recently performed the Fantasma II (trombone concerto) in the uni orchestra. (I wasn't playing the solo part, far from it, I was back desk of the 2nd violins!) The music was Debussyesque and so relaxing to play. Lots of juicy harmonics and cluster chords and lovely lyrical melodies.

    I've got out some film scores of his and they are really good! He's a terrific composer and has kept new music healthy throughout the 2nd part of the 20th century.
    When all the paint has been dried, when all the stone has been carved, music shall remain, and we shall work with what remains.

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    Senior Member Tapkaara's Avatar
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    Has anyone ever heard any of his piano works?
    "Music is not philosophy." --Akira Ifukube

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tapkaara View Post
    Has anyone ever heard any of his piano works?
    Yes. His Litany - In memory of Michael Vyner.

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    I recently hear his From Me Flows What You Call Time it had a nice even flow ( no pun intented ) to it. Very nice.
    I adore art...when I am alone with my notes, my heart pounds and the tears stream from my eyes, and my emotion and my joys are too much to bear.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tapkaara View Post
    Has anyone ever heard any of his piano works?
    Yeah they're great! I recently performed Rain Tree Sketch II at a concert. That piece is really something. It's musically difficult, and of course learning by heart, that's the other glitch.

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    Senior Member Tapkaara's Avatar
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    I think his piano works truly are great. Probably a good place to start for Takemitsu newbies. His orchestral works would be next, and I would place his chamber works as the most difficult.
    "Music is not philosophy." --Akira Ifukube

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