WORKS: Tree Line; Rain Coming; Waves; Rain Tree; Garden Rain; Toward the Sea II; Rain Spell; Waterways
PERFORMER: Ensemble 2e2m/Paul Méfano
CATALOGUE NO: 222182
There is more variety in Toru Takemitsu’s output than you’d guess from a programme of late works like this. As the titles suggest, metaphors of rain, trees and water in different kinds of motion provide an overriding thematic complex for the various scores presented here. It also induces a sameness of mood which is no drawback for the individual performances, but makes me advise against listening to the disc at one sitting. Unless this is the mood you want to overtake you: quiescent, contemplative, slightly melancholy, the music keening and crying in soulful isolation.
The notes on the various works are Takemitsu’s own, but are printed, confusingly, in a different order from the track listing. The Toward the Sea pieces are pretty often recorded, and Tree Line, Waterways, Rain Spell and Rain Coming are already coupled on an excellent Virgin disc from the London Sinfonietta under Oliver Knussen. There’s little to choose between that version and this new French one, which is super-refined, fastidious but perhaps slightly bloodless by comparison. It’s good, however, to hear slight rarities like the wind-instrument pieces Waves and Garden Rain, and the crown of the disc is a mesmerising performance of the percussion work Rain Tree that lays bare its deep roots in Ravel’s La vallée des cloches. Calum MacDonald