Toru Takemitsu

A Flock Descends into the Pentagonal Garden (1977) for Orchestra / Dreamtime (1981)

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Performed by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, conducted by Tadaaki Otaka, with Paul Watkins, cellist. The first two works on this CD have been described elsewhere under the composer's name. Of the last two: Star-Isle is a lovely work of approximately eight minutes duration that suggests far away galaxies, deserted asteroids, lush washes of starlight, mythical Edens of the future. Written for an orchestra of younger players at a university, its textures are simple, light, impressionistic, and introspective at times in melody, but with all the richness of harmonic sound expected from with this composer, plus occasional punctuations, bursts of exploding novae. Star-Isle belongs to Takemitsu's "constellation series" as well as does the final work on this CD Orion and Pleiades. Separated into three movements, the first, "Orion," expresses a kind of poetic indecisiveness and nostalgia and dramatic introspection. The second movement, "and," is built from gestural chords in the orchestra which surround a deep solo commentary and recitative by the cello, passages built of layered emotions. The final movement, "Pleiades," contains denser chords from the orchestra with rising scalar lines that create a truly celestial texture; the cello provides a warm nostalgia, questioning, reflection and lyricism that floats among the orchestra textures and often in the silence of empty space. Like other Takemitsu works, these last two pieces are built from gestures that follow each other without a steady pulse or development toward a climax, both linear practices from Western concert music that assume time to be a steady state continuity. This composer's music creates the Japanese feeling for time as "breath," recuring events that push along like biological life, like the force of wind amongt the trees.