Takemitsu: All in Twilight; Equinox; Folios; In the Woods; The Last Waltz; 12 Songs

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Takemitsu
LABELS: BIS
WORKS: All in Twilight; Equinox; Folios; In the Woods; The Last Waltz; 12 Songs
PERFORMER: Franz Halász (guitar)
CATALOGUE NO: CD-1075
Alongside his ensemble music with guitar, Takemitsu left only half an hour’s original solo work. Equinox and In the Woods present his art at its most distilled. Simplified in harmony and frequently melodic, they tend towards an infinite horizon on which stand the Debussy Préludes, whereas All in Twilight uses his familiar, directed-stream-of-consciousness idiom, close in mood and harmonic complexity to jazz introductions of the mid-20th century. Folios, much earlier, is less improvisatory and more solid, heading towards a clinching Bach quotation.

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Tempi as usual are slow and flexible. One of the Twilight pieces has the classic marking ‘Slightly fast’, though the one before really is almost fast, albeit for under two minutes. The album is bulked out with arrangements of folk and pop songs, mainly Western. Anything but straight, they include sensitive handlings of ‘Michelle’ and ‘Summertime’, a contrived mess of the delicate harmonies of ‘Yesterday’ and the so-called ‘Londonderry Air’, and positively camped-up versions of the ‘Internationale’ and ‘What a Friend I Have in Jesus’.

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Halász plays with consummate skill, alive to the essential fluctuating rubato and a whizz with Takemitsu’s demanding chord shifts. The recording conveys the latter all too clearly: its closeness and resonant background make the instrument sound amplified.