Soundtrack Music of the Week

The soundtrack music of the late Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu has been sporadically available in this country, if at all, so The Film Music of Toru Takemitsu (Nonesuch, out now) is most welcome. Takemitsu was best known in the U.S. for his work with filmmaker Akira Kurosawa (represented here with a section from 1970’s Dodes’kaden), but he composed 93 movie scores over 40 years and his range was remarkable. His music was greatly influenced by the West, and there are moments on this compilation that wouldn’t sound out of place on an Ennio Morricone or Jerry Goldsmith collection. There are stately organs (as on the opening selection from 1989’s Rikyu, directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara, who used Takemitsu for many of his films) and lush strings with melodies hinting at the baroque. But there is also the distinctively Japanese flavor he brought to his harrowing score for Teshigahara’s Woman in the Dunes (1964), where the dry scrape of strings personified the shifting sands. This collection shows the breadth of Takemitsu’s work. This is one entry in the Nonesuch Film Music Series, which also devotes discs to Alex North, Leonard Rosenman and Georges Delerue. (For those interested in exploring Takemitsu’s non-soundtrack music, Denon has released the orchestral disc Autumn and a CD of his guitar works performed by Shin-ichi Fukuda; the latter is recommended if you can find it.)
Originally published in the October 3, 1997, edition of epulse (3.39).

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