Takemitsu, Atsutada Otaka, Hosokawa

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Atsutada Otaka,Hosokawa,Takemitsu
LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: Nami no Bon; Ran
PERFORMER: Bryan Ashley (organ); Sapporo SO/Tadaaki Otaka
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 9876
The two Takemitsu works on this disc are not concert pieces but incidental music, one composed for Akira Kurosawa’s film Ran, the other for a television drama called Nami no Bon. The music for the television programme is unashamedly nostalgic, Romantic, full of sentimental cliché and, to be honest, rather a pleasant wallow. That for the film goes further out of its way in terms of striking sounds. The problem, as with most incidental music, is that both pieces sound incidental and fragmented. Without their associated images they cannot stand as complete works of art. There’s no snobbery involved in this view. The film without its music would be equally incomplete.

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The other two pieces are thus far more satisfying. Atsutada Otaka’s Fantasy for organ and orchestra has a statuesque, Messiaen-like quality, and there are enough passages of quiet reflectiveness to avoid any charge of bombast. Yet this music still feels shallower, more gestural, than Toshio Hosokowa’s Memory of the Sea, whose subtitle, ‘Hiroshima Symphony’, signifies no lament for his home city’s nuclear destruction, but instead a paean to nature’s regenerative power. Hosokawa is a composer of real standing, his music a concentrated harnessing of contained energies, colours, textures, poetry, that goes far beyond the mere sound-effect that its sometimes static qualities might suggest. The entire programme is beautifully played by the Sapporo Symphony Orchestra under Tadaaki Otaka. Stephen Pettitt