Takemitsu: Romance; Distance de fée; Orion; Between Tides

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COMPOSERS: Takemitsu
LABELS: ASV
WORKS: Romance; Distance de fée; Orion; Between Tides
PERFORMER: Fujita Trio
CATALOGUE NO: CD DCA 1120
Only one of these 10 works – the last, Between Tides – is actually written for piano trio; the others are all either solos or duets. But hearing them in chronological sequence on this disc does provide a handy map of Toru Takemitsu’s development, and a demonstration of how he gradually honed the style of his mature works, which have become increasingly popular since his death in 1996.

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The Romance for piano was only discovered posthumously, and shows that French music in general and Debussy in particular was the starting-point for his stylistic journey in the years after the end of World War II, enriched by the harmonic world of Messiaen a couple of years later in the violin-and-piano Distance de fée. Then the Second Viennese School was added to the mix – there’s a strong echo of Webern’s conciseness in Hika, another piece for violin and piano, though it was Berg’s expressiveness that eventually proved a more potent resource. From the piano Rain Tree Sketch onwards Takemitsu’s language was perfected, and it became impossible to separate out the elements of his music into their components. That distinct and quietly assertive vein of poetry runs through all the remaining pieces here, always beautifully imagined and exquisitely shaped. Andrew Clements