Tonight, I am listening to music written by the great 20th century composer Toru Takemitsu. My first listening experience tonight is with the work that first gained Takemitsu international attention, Requiem for String Orchestra (1957). The first element to seize me is the sound of the wide dynamic ranges, from deathly quiet to thunderous over brief momentary gestures. The gargantuan sweeping harmonies cascade from page to page in unsteady slow rhythms that evoke a grand sense of awe and wonder. The influence of Debussy is quite evident, but this music is wholly sui generis. As I listen, I imagine oceans of different colors and textures forming waves and currents that crash into one another and blend into new forms. Looking at the score you can observe how Takemitsu breaks up predictable rhythms using subdivisions, ties, frequent changes in tempi, and use of fermatas.

Nostalghia, for violin and string orchestra, was composed the year I was born, 1987. The first sounds make me thing of a fog slowly drifting across a lake. I've paused and started the piece over three times now because of how beautiful it is, I must hear it again. If anyone wants to send me the score to this piece, it would be considered a divine gift. The careful orchestration is as precise as the work of a surgeon, with brilliant moments of the violin cutting through the ensemble using harmonics. The rich harmony rumbles at times like the breathing of a slumbering giant. There is a pattern to the soloists melodic motif, an ascension of intervals, rising through the clouds, pitted against the tangle of oppressors growling beneath. The tension of the string orchestra continually threatens to consume the liberating themes performed by the agile violin.

I feel now that his works are calling for my attention. There are writings by Takemitsu as well, where he graciously offered some insight into his creative process. We should be grateful when opportunities arise which allow us to learn and grow.