Takemitsu "Complete Solo Guitar Works"

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Takemitsu "Complete Solo Guitar Works"

Postby pianoman » Wed Mar 25, 2015 9:01 pm

This naxos album came out in 2014. It contains all of the original solo works for guitar that Takemitsu wrote, as well as two homages for Takemitsu by the cuban guitarist/composer Leo Brouwer, performed by Japanese guitarist Shin-ichi Fukuda.

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I am trying to limit myself to new releases, but I want to get a thread started on Takemitsu and this is a really good album. The liner notes quote the New Grove Dictionary of Musicians that describes Takemitsu's music as follows: "modal melodies emerging from a chromatic background, the suspension of regular metre, and an acute sensitivity to register and timbre." This is a very apt description, but to me it leaves out what really makes Takemitsu interesting: the complexity of his musical phrases. These compositions have a very internal, stream-of-conscious character. They seem fragmentary on the surface, but on a deeper level are connected laterally the way thoughts are connected in the mind: casual and deliberate, whimsical and serious, dull and surprising all at the same time. To me, this music is an argument for the phrase as a foundational element of music preceding harmony and meter.

Fukuda almost made this an "other instruments" post. I will definitely explore other recordings by him in the future. Fukuda is extremely good at controlling the expressive possibilities of the guitar with the right hand. There are notes in these compositions that mean nothing except for the way they are plucked. A note or chord can "hum" or "flare" or "snap," often suddenly. Fukuda is also very good at using negative space, which is critical in this music. These recordings sound completely natural, at ease, like rippling water on a still day.

The Brouwer homages are also good. I have been a fan of Brouwer's music, although I never really immersed myself in it. It is interesting that both composers are modern, both use dissonance and traditonal tonality in a fragmentary and ironic way, but, unlike Brouwer, Takemitsu remains always unattainable, ungraspable.
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