Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Music Webmaster
Len Mullenger:

Toru TAKEMITSU (1930-1996)
I Hear the Water Dreaming
Toward the Sea (versions for flute and guitar; for flute, harp and string orchestra†;and for alto flute and harp)
Le Fils des Étoiles
And then I knew 'Twas Wind*
Patrick Gallois (wooden flute) and Fabrice Pierre (Salvi harp and Camac* harp)
BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Andrew Davis †
Deutsche Grammophon 20/21 - 453459 -2
 Amazon UK   Amazon US

Takemitsu's primary inspiration was the natural world and the flute was the instrument that came closest to capturing its essence through its many possible variations of tone-production and fingering to allow extraordinary subtle colouring of phrases and even individual notes. It is interesting to note how frequently the French composers, who Takemitsu esteemed so much, used the flute. (Takemitsu was especially influenced by Debussy and Messiaen. Both sought to emulate the natural world in many of their compositions). On this album Patrick Gallois is featured in every work. In his booklet note he comments: "Takemitsu's use of the shakuhachi - the flute of traditional Japanese music - as a solo instrument made an enormous impression on me…Takemitsu's music inspired my turning from the gold to the wooden flute... [Takemitsu] was completely in touch with his age {he} took the same delight in writing film scores as transcribing Satie and re-working Beatles' melodies, extended the art of Debussy and succeeded in integrating the Japanese tradition into contemporary language."

I Hear the Water Dreaming for flute and orchestra was composed in 1987. This work not only combines the fluidity of water and the associated formlessness of dreams, with the influence of an aboriginal painting called "Water Dreaming" that is full of mythological symbols. The theme played on the flute near the beginning corresponds to the "aquatic icon" in the painting; this theme is constantly modified in a sequence of "lyrical and dreamlike episodes". The accompanying orchestra is surprisingly large, including celeste and two harps, but the forces are used sparingly to support and colour the solo line and maintain its calm rhapsodic flow. A lovely work most beautifully played.

The brief Les Fils Des Étoiles in which the music floats directionlessly without conventional cadences and unconstrained by bar lines is played by flute and a harp that is partially retuned to make the chord sequences less awkward to play. 

Toward the Sea exists in three separate versions and all are played on this disc. The evocative work comes in three movements: 'The Night'; 'Moby Dick'; and 'Cape Cod'.

The first version, for alto flute and guitar, dates from 1981 and it was written as a contribution to the Greenpeace Foundation's "Save the Whales". The work was inspired by Herman Melville's Moby Dick but Takemitsu was more interested in the sea as a spiritual domain. The piece is written mostly in free time with many fluctuations of tempo. The guitar chiefly accompanies with chords and arpeggio figurations. Toward the Sea II for alto flute harp and string orchestra followed in 1981 with the strings adding more depth and colour and Toward the Sea III, for alto flute and harp, offering alternative colours came in 1989.

And then I knew 'Twas the Wind for flute viola and harp was composed in 1992 and Takemitsu explained that the work "has as its subject the signs of the wind in the natural world and of the soul, or unconscious mind (or we could even call it 'dream') which continues to blow like the wind, invisibly, through human consciousness." Again there are constantly fluctuating time-signatures and tempi and minute indications of tone colour. Air, for solo flute, written at the end of 1995, refers to the natural element involved in the act of flute playing and it is a beautifully crafted miniature. It was drawn from a projected work for flute, harp and orchestra, which remained unfinished on Takemitsu's death in February 1996.

A colourful collection of slow moving, mostly serene and dreamlike music most sympathetically played.


Ian Lace


Ian Lace

Reviews from previous months

You can purchase CDs, tickets and musician's accessories and Save around 22% with these retailers : - The UK's Biggest Video Store

Concert and Show tickets


Musicians accessories

Click here to visit

Return to Index