covering the years between 1955-1964, this first dip into the frankly staggering oeuvre of Toru Takemitsu’s scores for film, tv, theatre, radio & tape shows him joyfully celebrating his fascination with jazz, tape music, Japanese traditional music and numerous other influences.
Takemitsu composed for almost 100 feature films. Aside from a few early lost scores, the monumental ‘Complete Takemitsu’ box set series gathers all the remaining music he composed for the screen - 92 in total. Given Takemitsu’s daily trips to the cinema (he stated that during is adolescence & adult life he went to the cinema at least once a day every day of the year, with only a few exceptions) and the huge number of pieces for concert hall one does struggle to understand how he found the time & energy to create it all, let alone how the quality remains consistently impressive throughout, no matter what stylistic attributes he draws on.
Takemitsu’s approach to writing for the screen was unconventional to say the least. Throughout his career he spent more and more time on the sets of the productions, often also being involved in filming and preparing or altering the scripts. Unlike any other composer he also began to remove more and more of the music he had prepared - not because it didn’t work or wasn’t ‘right’ but because he wanted more space in the sound, and crucially, he wanted the sounds of the locations themselves to be present. The ‘stage’ was part of his compositional process, a process that began with the notes written on paper but rarely ended there. Although the title of the box set series uses the word ‘complete’ one can only really here the ‘complete’ scores by watching the films themselves, as every sound was considered part of the ‘score’ so to speak - an approach that links to Japanese traditional theatre for example.
There are 5 box sets in the ‘complete Takemitsu’ edition (now out of print) containing 58 discs (officially, though one of the ones I own also has an extra disc of choral songs) & each box set comes with its own hardback book of between 300-500 or so pages - in Japanese of course. Several years ago now I took the plunge & ordered from Japan volumes 3,4 & 5, covering music for film, tv, theatre, radio, tape and popular song. Prior to this I had 6 or the 7 JVC ‘film music of Toru Takemitsu’ series, as well as numerous discs of Takemitsu’s ‘classical’ output, and was eager to hear more. Needless to say I was not disappointed and although I believed I already knew just how remarkable a composer he was, I was not prepared for the sheer range and depth of the works contained in these sets. The keep revealing new layers.
Given how hard it is to find these sets now and their cost when one does, I decided to put together a series of mixes that will allow others to experience what is still only a fraction of this unique artistic achievement. enjoy….