Takemitsu: Rain Spell; Water-Ways; Rain Coming; Tree Line; Cassiopeia

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Takemitsu
LABELS: HMV
WORKS: Rain Spell; Water-Ways; Rain Coming; Tree Line; Cassiopeia
PERFORMER: Sebastian Bell (flute), Gareth Hulse (oboe), Stomu Yamash’ta (percussion); London Sinfonietta/Oliver Knussen, Japan Philharmonic SO/Seiji Ozawa
CATALOGUE NO: 5 73861 2 (only available from HMV stores) ADD/DDD Reissue (1971, 1991)
Between them the reissue and the new release could supply the ideal small-scale Takemitsu album, showing how consistently his subtle ear and free-flowing ideas brought beauty to sensuous, mainly slow music. Separately they are more patchy. Patrick Galloisflute leads the better-played collection which includes three of the finest pieces, all on one level a homage to specific works by Debussy and on another an intimate encounter with some of Takemitsu’s most distilled and lyrical visions.

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Half the time is taken up by all three versions of Toward the Sea, and for a single disc that is two too many. The final one for flute and harp has the best of both worlds, the energy of the guitar original and the sustaining power of the orchestral strings. That’s the price for enjoying Gallois’s agility and highly responsive sense of colour.

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On the other CD the range of the music is much wider, from the expansively luscious Water-Ways to the intense stream of consciousness that is Stomu Yamash’ta’s percussion solo against full orchestra for the 1971 Cassiopeia, rising to some rare instances in the composer’s output of direct physical excitement. Elsewhere various London Sinfonietta ensembles sound relatively cold, stronger on precision than atmosphere. Robert Maycock