Takemitsu: Complete Solo Piano Music

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COMPOSERS: Takemitsu
LABELS: BIS
WORKS: Complete Solo Piano Music
PERFORMER: Noriko Ogawa (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CD-805
Takemitsu’s musical world was so intimately connected with instrumental colour, with the most subtle interplay of textures and shifting perspectives, that it’s perhaps surprising that he composed for the relatively monochrome medium of the piano consistently throughout his career. From Litany, a revised version of his first published work dating from 1950, to the second of the Rain Tree Sketches of 1992, the eight pieces here, all played by Noriko Ogawa with exquisite tact and precision, trace a neat curve through his development. In one way, though, development is an inappropriate word to describe the course of Takemitsu’s music, for once the ingredients of his style were in place by the early Sixties his music ceased to evolve in any technical sense: the mastery of form increased and the effects became more sophisticated but the essentials remained the same.

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In the earliest works here, though, the raw materials are still being assimilated – in Litany, the Second Viennese School, and Berg especially, is the predominant flavour, coloured by elements of Debussy: in Pause ininterrompue (1952-9) Messiaen begins to dominate the harmony, while in Piano Distance (1961) the postwar avant-garde, Stockhausen and Boulez, gives the music a harder edge. After that, from Far Away (1973) onwards, Takemitsu is in full control of every element of his style, and the mixture has the instinctive magic and elegance that is so recognisable from his better-known orchestral scores. Andrew Clements