Robert Aitken invited Takemitsu to Canada for performances of his chamber music in the New Music Concerts series in 1975 and 1983. The close friendships that developed between them, as well as with the members of the Toronto-based NEXUS percussion ensemble and many other Toronto musicians, led to the composition of a number of works which received their first performances in Toronto. Most of the pieces on this recording were personally performed for Takemitsu by these players and benefited from his coaching.
Toru Takemitsu (1930 - 1996)
01. And Then I Knew 'Twas Wind
02. Rain Tree
Toward the Sea
03. I - The Night
04. II - Moby Dick
05. III - Cape Cod
10. Rain Spell
Toronto New Music Ensemble
"Music is either sound or silence. As long as I live I shall choose sound as something to confront a silence. That sound should be a single, strong sound."
- Toru Takemitsu (1962)
Gramophone - Reviewed: Awards 2003, Barry Witherden
Outstanding release that showcases these musicians’ empathy with Takemitsu’s world
Much of Takemitsu’s later music exhibited a softening around the edges, yet the self-confessed Romantic never lost the power to enchant, continuing to conjure soundscapes of otherworldly beauty right to the end. I’d argue in favour of a lower-case romanticism: his work in the final decade of his life was gentle, full of tenderness, sentiment and sighs rather than the elemental, flagellatory melodrama of Romanticism with a capital Aah! He never entirely discarded the starker beauty of his earlier work, though. Air, premièred 23 days before he died, distills much of the spirit of his music, evoking the French Impressionists, modernist asceticism and the pared-down elegance of Japanese traditional music and gardens. It was written for flautist Aurèle Nicolet and first played in public by Yasukazu Uemura, but it is hard to imagine Robert Aitken’s performance being bettered.
Aitken invited Takemitsu to Canada in 1975 and 1983. From these visits grew a special relationship with the musicians featured on this outstanding album. They performed most of these works for the composer, so we can assume that the interpretations bear the hallmark of authenticity: they certainly sound utterly convincing to me, with their perfect balance of the technical (sharply focused realisations of dots on lines) and the emotional (restrained but warm evocations of the non-musical under-pinnings). Itinerant (1989) is a case in point: Takemitsu pictures a garden where vegetable and mineral, motion and stability mingle in precisely designed harmony, yet each visitor’s perspective discovers a fresh view.
The programming is as admirable as the playing, surveying Takemitsu’s music for small forces from 1971 (Voice, with its references to Noh theatre) to 1995 (Air). From the pastoral, slightly eerie trio for flute, viola and harp And Then I Knew – devised as a companion-piece to Debussy’s 1915 Sonata for the same instruments – and the shimmering, celestial Rain Tree, to Rain Spell, brooding and turbulent in turns, this is yet another excellent 20th-century showcase from Naxos.
Exact Audio Copy V0.99 prebeta 4 from 23. January 2008
EAC extraction logfile from 16. October 2008, 9:53
Toronto New Music Ensemble, Robert Aitken / Toru Takemitsu - Toward the Sea, Rain Tree, Rain Spell, Bryce
Used drive : PLEXTOR CD-R PREMIUM2 Adapter: 1 ID: 1
Read mode : Secure
Utilize accurate stream : Yes
Defeat audio cache : Yes
Make use of C2 pointers : No
Read offset correction : 30
Overread into Lead-In and Lead-Out : No
Fill up missing offset samples with silence : Yes
Delete leading and trailing silent blocks : No
Null samples used in CRC calculations : Yes
Used interface : Installed external ASPI interface
Used output format : Internal WAV Routines
Sample format : 44.100 Hz; 16 Bit; Stereo