Saturday, July 23, 2011

Toru Takemitsu - Corona / For Away / Piano Distance / Undisturbed Rest (Headline/Decca - Head 4)

Toru Takemitsu is one of the pioneers in modern Japanese classical music and probably is the most well known. He can be listed in the realism branch of modern classical composers along with Luigi Nono even though they have a pretty distinctive approach in the beginning phases of their careers with Nono concentrating heavily on industrialization and sociology (Due to his communist background) while Takemitsu is more involved with nature and finding out what nature sounds like.

The A side of the record is Corona - London Version which is in mentality quite similar to the 1950's approach of John Cage on silence. According to Takemitsu, silence is the most natural sound. However, he has another interesting view that since imagination is the basis of all pieces written, they can only sound natural. Of course this piece was written in 1962, before musique concrete was evolved with total fruition to the main stage.

During the piece, and to be honest the whole record, sound structures are based on textures which is the main developing point of Takemitsu's career. Corona can be described as his best work on textures and this really shows off during the performance. Based on his idea, several sound structures formed by textures can meet and get separated at any given moment with being accompanied by irregular silences. What I am listening can very well be the forming grounds of today's electro acoustic or drone sounds including Fennesz himself. The piece is based on 5 textures of which are articulation, vibration, intonation, expression and conversation. The performer (Pianist) in this case is Roger Woodward who is a well known, but out of sight Avant Garde pianist. Since the piece is totally left in his own improvisation based on the 5 textures, what we are listening is a unique example and cannot be the same of another performance of this piece.

The B side offers 3 pieces with the last one (Undisturbed Rest) being a three piece composition in itself and the earliest work on this record. This piece is unique in the sense that it is only one of the rare works where one can witness the early influences of Takemitsu with visibility. The first piece, For Away, is the composers gift to the performer under the philosophical idea of "expression of extolment and offering to the Galaxy Of Life" while the second piece, Piano Distance, has no particular meaning. Piano Distance is created on the idea of sharp and contrasted notes with the eventual feeling of crippling with anxiety.

I feel extremely unlucky to have not witnessed one of these performances of Takemitsu and I hope I'll never remain unlucky for the remainder of my life.

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