WORKS: Quotation of Dream; Signals from Heaven; How Slow the Wind
PERFORMER: Paul Crossley, Peter Serkin (piano); London Sinfonietta/Oliver Knussen
CATALOGUE NO: Ô20/21Õ 453 495-2
This is a truly remarkable disc, a diverse and satisfying collection of works from Takemitsu’s last decade, given vital, intensely committed performances by the London Sinfonietta, regular collaborators with the composer, conducted by Takemitsu’s long-time friend, Oliver Knussen. These connections show: there’s a palpable love for the man and his music here.
Quotation of Dream takes from Debussy’s La mer liberally but, perhaps not surprisingly, the Debussy and Takemitsu ‘sections’ flow effortlessly into each other, each informing and transforming the other’s sound-world. Paul Crossley and Peter Serkin are the sensitive double-piano soloists, and DG’s astonishing recording captures every nuance and sustained sound. Archipelago S. is almost obsessive in its recurring theme, and its more transparent textures make clear the unusual positioning of players around the listener, superbly captured on disc. Dream/Window, a portrait of one of Takemitsu’s beloved formal gardens achieves its musical perspective with a small ‘orchestra’ of flute, clarinet and string quartet positioned within the larger ensemble, and expansive, extrovert gestures use deeper, darker sonorities than elsewhere on the disc.
This music’s meditative nature is tempered by the minute attention Knussen pays to the qualities of its sounds, their weights, voicings, sonorities. He seems at one with this exquisite music, not afraid to let it approach silence and stasis at times, nor to give it full rein in Takemitsu’s sometimes turbulent drama of sound. These are enigmatic but deeply felt works, movingly performed.