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The opening work on this disc, Spirit Garden, was composed a couple of years before Takemitsu's death in 1996. It provides an ideal introduction to his sound-world, what he called his 'on-going enquiry into orchestral colour and melody' [listen -- track 1, 4:56-6:25]. It's followed by the earliest piece on the disc, Solitude Sonore (1958) in which bell sounds play an important part. While there may be less of a sensuous sheen to the sound, and with a greater emphasis on brass writing, its processes are typical of the composer.

In the middle of the disc comes Three Film Scores for String Orchestra. Takemitsu was an enormous cinema fan, and wrote scores for a huge number of films (The New Grove lists over a hundred). He put this three-movement suite together in 1994-5, drawing on film music written over nearly as long a period as that represented by the CD as a whole. Here we meet a different Takemitsu, adept at using whatever musical imagery and style is appropriate to the job in hand. Consequently there is more of a Western feel here than in his concert works, as in the concluding Waltz, originally written to accompany a scene in a beer-hall [listen -- track 5, 0:00-0:38].

Dreamtime, from 1981, dates from a period when, according to Andrew Burn's informative notes, Takemitsu was preoccupied with the Australian aboriginal belief in a spiritual state beyond our immediate linear experience of time, although the piece itself is concerned more with the every day experience of dreaming. Compared with Spirit Garden there is a sense of the individual sound-objects Takemitsu has assembled having a sharper outline, constructing a piece with its own inner logic.

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Copyright © 8 October 2007 Mike Wheeler, Derby UK


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Classical Music Programme Notes for concerts and recordings, by Malcolm Miller