Review of Japanese Guitar Music 1, Toru Takemitsu Complete Original Solo Guitar Works di Shin-ichi Fukuda, Naxos, 2014
“The classical guitar was in many ways an ideal medium for Takemitsu, combining intense subtleties of sonority with a wide range of timbres and possibilities.” *
On page 4 of the booklet that accompanies the CD there is a beautiful picture. Maestro Shin-ichi Fukuda looks fondly on his guitar while on his side Toru Takemitsu does the same, Takemitsu smiles, a rare thing, his iconography has accustomed us to a melancholy, gently sad, sometimes even staid attitude. The photo, made by Akira Kinoshita in 1985, was made two years before the composing of the four impressionistic movements of “All in Twilight”, inspired by the homonymous picture of Paul Klee. Graham Wade, British journalist and great classical guitar expert, defines it as “a far more impressionistic work then Folios”, work composed in 1974 that Fukuda here performs with great skill and talent, proving to be able to create and instill a great intense sensitivity and a large palette of colors from his instrument, a Kohno Guitar by Master Masaki Sakurai.
“I wish to free sounds from the trite rules of music, rules that are in turn stifled by formulas and calculations. I want to give sounds the freedom to breathe.” **
Equinox (1993) is a piece dedicated to Kiyoshi Shomura, performed by the same guitarist the 4th April 1994 in Tokyo, a work also inspired by a painting, this time by the Catalan painter Joan Miro. “During the equinox the lenght of day and night are the same and the title has some relationship to musical proportion and the armonic pitch interval within the composition, but no literary meaning.” In the Woods was the last work composed for guitar by the Japanese composer, in hospital in November 1995, before his death in February 1996. It consists of three independent parts: Wainscot Pond, after a painting of Cornelia Foss, dedicated to John Williams, Rosedale dedicated to Kiyoshi Shomura and Muir Woods, written for Julian Bream.
A Piece for Guitar, For the 60th birthday was dedicated to the Italian composer Sylvano Bussotti, and performed in Rome the 1th October 1991. It’s a very short piece, just over a minute, composed of only eighteen bars characterized by a sequence of very expressive chords and an intricate harmonic progression.
“Art is nothing but the actualization of the creative spirit. Pieces of music are facts captured by the spirit, using sound as a medium. In that sense pieces of music are concrete things.” ***
The cd starts with Hika: In Memoriam Toru Takemitsu in 1996 by Leo Brouwer, his great friend and admirer, this passage featured a “scordatura” (the four middle strings of the guitar are tuned like a G minor chord). Brouwer also signed El Arpa y La Sombra 2005, a tribute to Takemitsu dedicated to the same Shin-ichi Fukuda: “In the solo piece we can appriciate ‘fioriture’ and ‘melismas’ into ‘agitato’; themes in contrast with nostalgic simple lines connected with quotes from Hika…”. This beautiful cd is closed by Takemitsu’s two reinterpretations of classic pop Here, There and Everywhere and Yesterday by the Beatles.
*Graham Wade in the notes of the cd’s booklet
** Toru Takemitsu, Confronting Silence Selected Writings, Scarecrow Press, 1995 pag. 4
*** Toru Takemitsu, Confronting Silence Selected Writings, Scarecrow Press, 1995 pag. 79