Takemitsu: Piano works (complete)

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COMPOSERS: Takemitsu
LABELS: gmn.com
WORKS: Piano works (complete)
PERFORMER: Paul Crossley (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: GMNC 0114 (distr. www.gmn.com)
Debussy at the beginning of the last century, and Takemitsu at its end, defined the piano’s role as the instrument of impressionism. It was no coincidence, therefore, that the later composer looked to the earlier as role model. True, Debussy’s Préludes unveiled a new world, whereas in Takemitsu’s greatest solo works, such as For away, the vision is synoptic. Not only Debussy, but also Scriabin and Messiaen, plus native gagaku are invoked, in an idiom of Joyceian abandon reflected in the title, borrowed from Finnegans Wake.

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The added extra is of sensibility. Though it cannot be proved that the searching fluidity of tempo, sound and timbre in Takemitsu’s music, and its dream-like ‘logic’, flow from his dual allegiance to oriental and Western cultures, it seems likely. Crossley’s authoritative booklet note makes the point well, though his playing clinches the matter. The ideal interpreter, having long identified with this oeuvre, he skilfully voices the composer’s chords: in the Litany – in Memory of Michael Vyner, for example. In more searching scores, like the classic Les yeux clos, complex patterns are related to the elusive mystery of the composer’s larger forms with innate understanding. The early Romance in its premiere recording is a true bonus. Nicholas Williams