Toru Takemitsu: Complete Music for Solo Guitar di Franz Halàsz, Grammofon AB BIS, 2000


Review of Toru Takemitsu: Complete Music for Solo Guitar di Franz Halàsz, Grammofon AB BIS, 2000

“During the 1970s, Takemitsu began composing for the guitar. Guitar music occupies an important place within his oeuvre. In fact, Takemitsu wrote even more pieces for guita then Heitor Villa-Lobos. Takemitsu played the instrument at a rudimental level, which explains his idiomatic way of composing. Every composition seems to have been thoroughly tested on the instrument of the composer. Takemitsu also had the benefit to of working with the best players in the world, including Julian Bream and John Williams. According to Bream, Takemitsu once said that the guitar was the instrument he loved most.” *

Twenty-four songs for this monographic work by the German guitarist Franz Halasz, a true musical biography for the Japanese composer who loved guitar so much. A great record, masterfully played and with an excellent recording’s quality which also use a nice reverb that amplifies the emotions that the Halasz’s guitar generates. I have to recommend this CD to those who want to know Takemitsu’s guitar music: in just one record you can listen to four pieces for guitar All In Twilight composed in 1987 for the great Julian Bream, the three Folios, his first guitar’s compositions dated 1974, the three parts of In the Woods, Equinox (1995) and all, but all his 2 Song arrangement with the addition of the Last Waltz for guitar.

“…Takemitsu writes: ‘The guitar is a beautiful instrument full of tonal variety. Although sometimes described as a “miniature orchestra”, it cleary does impose considerable functional limitations on the performer. But it is precisely these limitation that endear the instrument to a composer or arranger and ignite his curiosity.’” *

The quality of this recording is at the highest level for all these passage, Halasz seems to have the right sensibility to convey that sense of autumnal sweetness and yearning melody that characterizes the Takemitsu’s music. The beauty of this music is held up in the interpreter’s ability to be in empathy with the qualities that distinguish the Japanese composer’s originality. His love for Messiaen and Cage, his particular silence’s perception seen as something not opposed to music but as a backdrop against which sound appears and disappears and from which notes emerge or disappear without any contrast signal, his idea of space/no space or distance summarized in the word “Ma” derived from the No theater and the base of Japanese Shinto, his love for gardens and water, combined with respect for the traditional Gagaku music and film music are the stylistic figures of Takemitsu and gave rise to a compositional style in which the author is revealed through a sound picture that resembles those zen paintings made with a few simple lines without taking the brush from the canvas.
A poetic elegance and formal simplicity that can be understood only with an audience that considers his music as a sound picture in motion and not as a simple set of notes. Just listen his Over the rainbow’s version to understand it.

* Per F. Broman in the cd’s booklet