Toru Takemitsu

Ceremonial for Orchestra with Sho / Family Tree - Musical Verses for Young

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Various soloists with the Saito Kinen Orchestra conducted by Seiji Ozawa. The heavenly tone clusters of the sho, in a timbre somewhere between high organ pitches and a bowed psalter, prevade the noble, impressionistic and most ancient feeling "Ceremonial". "Family Tree - Musical Verses for Young People" are fully and gently emotional (not clich├ęd or silly) and loving portraits of family members "Grandpa," "Grandma," "Dad," "Mom," and of personal spaces shared with family pets -- "Once Upon a Time" and "A Distant Place." The music is tonal yet rich in harmony and imaginative orchestration, which includes accordion and steel drums. "My Way of Life", on poems by Ryuichi Tamura, is also primarily a romantic tonal work but rich in thoughtful music and philosophical contemplation. Its various parts are "I was once asked," "To a Discerning Eye," "A human being has its own way of life," and "It is not time that passes on." Slow and sustained development characterizes the lyric and mysterious elegy "Requiem." The melodies in this work are considerably longer than the single gestures from which many of Takemitsu's concert works are built. The expansive chromatic melody floats over a repeated minor chord. There is a deep sense of tragedy throughout the piece, but midway through there are two bursts of energy like an angry railing and fist-shaking against what has happened, each time an icy non-vibrato high sustain brings the motion to a halt. Then twice a sweet violin solo recalls heartfelt memories; the second solo is followed by the icy high chords, and this dichotomy of emotional states brings the work to a close.