This disc contains
two works: Green, for orchestra,
which is an excerpt from November
Steps, and Arc, a six-movement,
two-part work for piano and orchestra.
Green is a pure orchestral piece,
which, while brief, shows off Takemitsuís
textures and vocabulary.
Defined as a "cycle"
rather than a concerto, Arc is
one of Takemitsuís "most ambitious
works for the concert hall", one
that he revised intensely. Each movement
can stand on its own, but all six movements
are tied together. In addition, unlike
a piano concerto, where the keyboard
instrument is present in every movement,
here the piano is absent from the sixth
movement, and plays little in the fourth.
Arc has its
ups and downs. With an opening movement
that recalls some of John Cageís random
works, the brief second movement, which
presents Arcís main theme, is
more lyrical, containing some intriguing
solo piano sections. The fourth movement
begins with a droning string theme,
but slowly expands to sections of extreme
dissonance and all-out bedlam. Unlike
most of Takemitsuís music, this section
is, frankly, disagreeable. The fifth
movement is similar in intensity, yet
less extreme, and the final movement,
the coda, slides through the main theme
of the work to a gentle ending.
All in all, while Green
is a fine example of Takemitsuís
orchestral expertise, Arc is
a "difficult work", much less
melodic or attaching than his other
works, and much more experimental in
its use of a wide range of instruments
and colors. In addition, the contrasts
between the movements are quite strong.
Those familiar with Takemitsuís music,
through such better-known works as A
Flock Descends into the Pentagonal Garden
or A String Around Autumn will
find that Arc is not of the same
ilk, but for unconditional fans of this
composers, this disc is a must-have,
since this work seems to be no longer
available on any other discs.
The sound of these
recordings is curious, considering that
they were recorded at the same performance.
Green is a bit dense, as if it
were recorded from a single microphone,
yet Arc exhibits much more space;
this may be due to the wider range of
instruments used in Arc, which
are spread across the stage more than
those used in Green.
It should be noted
that at just over 33 minutes, this is
a somewhat niggardly recording. The
London Sinfonietta could have coupled
these works with either other Takemitsu
pieces or works by other composers;
after all, this is from a live performance
by the ensemble, and released on their
own label. It would have been interesting
to have another half-hour of music by
a composer similar to Takemitsu, to
discover how he influenced others or
how his music was influenced.
also review by Anne Ozorio