Toru Takemitsu

Music of Toru Takemitsu IV: Music of Tree (1961) / Coral Island (1962)/Kaidan (1966)

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A great collection of Takemitsu's innovative electronic tape music and two beautiful early orchestral pieces. "Coral Island (An Atoll)" is an early and exquisite work for soprano and orchestra from 1962 that already shows many of the compositional procedures and aesthetics that would concern Takemitsu throughout his life: the kaleidoscope of sound timbres, the smooth and lush orchestra of Debussy combined with the more earthly percussion of the moderns, and the expressive inflections of traditional Japanese music. The underlying image or "program" of this piece is a dichotomy -- in this case, between the abstract and the concrete. The composition is in five sections. Through wind and percussion that accumulate around string sonorities, "Introduction and Accumulation I" depicts "the play of the surf ringing an atoll...the horizon appears, then disappears gradually into tranquility." In "Poem I" (words by Makoto Ohka) the voice flows on a horizontal line and the instruments in verticalities; when they intersect "a magic sound-space of colors" occurs. "Intermezzo and Accumulation II" expands upon the sound material of the previous sections. "Poem II," with a musical approach similar to that of "Poem I," speaks of many earthly concerns and sighs, "Ah, but I remain an island when the sun penetrates into my wood of shells, I become a transparent coral island, a foaming crest of love." In "Finale and Accumulation III," "voices from a far place" are heard. "An endless horizon. An atoll is not an island; neither is it an ocean...the coral island may be one's desire, physical love or memory -- or might it be man's prayer?" The tape piece "Vocalism A-I" uses a human voice on the word "AI" (meaning "love" in Japanese) modulated through tape and electronic methods; it was used as the soundtrack for a charming animated film in which a man is pursued by his overenthusiastic beloved.