The classical guitar was an ideal medium for Takemitsu, combining subtleties of sonority with a wide range of timbres. Within a short time, he was acknowledged as one of the 20th century’s most formidable masters of writing for guitar. He brought to the instrument a unique sensibility and an imaginative flair for its colours and expressiveness. Shin-ichi Fukuda, one of Japan’s most eminent recitalists, was a close friend of the composer.
Toward the Sea was commissioned by the Greenpeace Foundation for its Save the Whales campaign. The first movement, The Night, was given its world premiere in Toronto by Robert Aitken and Leo Brouwer in February, 1981. The work was first performed in its entirety by Hiroshi
Koizumi and Norio Sato in Tokyo in May, 1981. The composition belongs to a series of Takemitsu’s works to do with the theme of water. In Toward the Sea, a three-note motif, deployed in each movement, centres around E flat, E and A. (In the German system of musical notation E flat is denoted as Es, thus torming the word SEA.)
Nami no Ban (1983) is music by Takemitsu for a television drama dealing with the topic of the Japanese/American families in Hawaii during the Second World War. This arrangement for guitar by Daisuke Suzuki, dedicated to Shin-ichi Fukuda, was adapted from the original orchestral score by permission of the composer’s daughter, Maki Takemitsu.
Air for flute solo (1996) was dedicated to the eminent Swiss flautist, Aurèle Nicolet (1926-2016), for his 70th birthday, was first performed by Yasukazu Uemura at the Katholisch Kirche Oberwil in Baselland, Switzerland on 28 January 1996.
Ichiro Nodaira (b. 1953, Tokyo) is a composer, concert pianist and conductor. He was graduated in composition from the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music. In 1978, he went to Paris and continued his studies at the Paris Conservatoire. Nodaira has performed as piano soloist with many leading orchestras, and in chamber music with a number of prominent artists. He has written over a hundred works for orchestra, opera, chamber ensemble, and solo instruments and been awarded numerous competition prizes: he received the Purple Ribbon Irom the Japanese government in 2012. Wave Recollections (written in 2011, dedicated to Shin-ichi Fukuda), was commissioned by Tokorozawa-Muse Hall and premiered by the dedicatee in February 2011. The composer planned to revise the work but this was postponed because of the tsunami on 11 March 01 that year.
Finally, in 2017, Wave Recollections was revised and completed for this recording. The composer has described the work: ‘Rather than a straightforward composition – a combination of notes, if you will – this composition is more of an investigation into the sounds and acoustic properties of the guitar. These include, for example, the playing of the same note on two different strings, enabling a delicate separation of the voices: in differing speeds, the scraping sounds made by the changing of the strings; and concurrent trills on different strings, etc. These kinds of sounds are, in the latter hall of the piece, augmented by various percussive sounds, such as tapping on the body of the instrument, and altering the pitch of the notes. The 2011 first version of this piece was more abstract, more of an echo of childhood remembrances. This new revision, however, recalls the great earthquake and tsunami of that same year.’
Ichiro Nodaira has arranged three songs for flute and guitar. The world premiere of the song arrangements by both Ichiro and Tami Nodaira took piace at the Palacio de la Guitarra, Ishioka, on 21 October 2017.
Hamabe no Uta (‘Song of the Beach’), composed in 1916 by Tarnezò Narita (1893-1945), with lyrics by Kokei Hayashi (1875-1947), tells of images of the sea shore, the sound of the wind, waves and colours of shells, and reflections on the past.
Jogashima no Ame (‘Rain over Jogashima’), written in 1913 by Tadashi Yanada (1885- 1959), has a text by Hakushu Kitahara (1885-1942). Jogashima, a small island of volcanic rock on the Miura peninsula south east of Yokohama, is situated near the tuna port of Misaki with a line view of Mount Fuji.
Furusato (‘My Old Country Home’) composed in 1914 by Teiichi Okano (1878-1941), with Iyrics by Takano Tatsuyuki (1876-1947), is a popular children’s song.
Tami Nodaira (b. 1960), composer and music critic, wife of Ichiro Nodaira, graduated from the Paris Conservatoire. Having returned to Japan in 1990, she lectured at the Kunitachi College of Music and Tokyo Gakugei University and is now a lecturer at Ochanomizu University. She has written several books on music, co-authored the Fauré Voice Music Collection, and has created the script for Ichiro Nodaira’s composition, Exile, premiered in 2018.
Tami Nodaira has kindly provided the following note for Water drops .dedicated to Shin-ichi Fukuda: ‘Rather like molluscs, water may assume infinitely different shapes. When flowing Ireely, it can do so in any direction. Yet, when a single drop lalls, it splashes up, creating the same regular pattern. It has been my intention to express these two properties, irregularity and regularity, using the guitar’s unique abundance of sounds and kaleidoscopic articulation. (I would like to express my thanks to Mr Shin-ichi Fukuda for his splendid, colourful performances and for giving me the opportunity to write for the guitar.)’
Tami Nodaira has arranged three songs for flute and guitar. Sunayama (‘The Dunes’), a song lor children, was written 1923 by Kòsçak Yamada (1886-1965), composer and conductor. Yamada, born in Tokyo, studied composition in Germany with Max Bruch.
Oborozukiyo (‘The Night of a Hazy Moon’), composed 1914 by Teiichi Okano (1878-1941) with words by Takano Tatsuyuki, evokes in its text the setting sun, while a thick log hides the distant mountains. A breeze is blowing and the evening moon shines through the dusk. The lights come on in the village, and the sound of frogs and the temple bell are veiled in the night of the hazy moon.
Kojyo no Tsuki (‘The Moon over the Ruined Castle’), composed by Rentaro Taki (1879-1903) in 1901, has become one of the most popular of Japanese songs. Hentarò Taki, composer and pianist, graduated from Tokyo Music School in 1901 before going to study at the Leipzig Conservatory in Germany. However, he contracted tuberculosis and returned to Japan where he died at the age of 23. Tami Nodaira’s arrangement is in the style of Astor Piazzolla in homage to the Argentinian composer’s famous Histoire du Tango.
Shin-Ichi Fukuda signs the fourth CD of this successful and beautiful series entirely dedicated to Japanese contemporary music for classical guitar. A commitment that has lasted for several years and which I hope will continue for a long time. Contemporary Japanese music is not very well known in the West but is always very interesting.