Eclipse for Biwa and Shakuhachi
01. Eclipse for Biwa and Shakuhachi 16:48
02. Masque for 2 Flutes 6:33
03. The Dorian Horizon 11:05
04. Cross talk pour 2 bandonéons et bande magnétique 6:32
05. Sky, Horse and Death 3:20
By Composed - Toru Takemitsu
Shakuhachi - Katsuya Yokoyama's
the Strings [Biwa] - Kinshi Tsuruta
Flute - of Ryu Noguchi, the Koide Shinya
Orchestra by - by Nippon Symphony is the Yomiuri Orchestra by
Conductor - Hiroshi Wakasugi
Bandoneon - Mitsuo Ikeda, Terumitsu Maeda
Just prior to his bridging the East-West cultural gap with November Steps, Takemitsu's Eclipse emerged as his first concert work for Japanese instruments. Scored for biwa and shakuhachi as well, it served to pave the way for his subsequent intercultural efforts. The somewhat shopworn but nonetheless accurate analogy of the Japanese rock garden serves well to describe the sonic landscape of Eclipse. Combining two instruments whose character is so dominated by details of articulation and inflection of individual notes through intonation or texture, the piece draws attention to minute details of musical surfaces and leaves ample space between sound events to focus the ear's concentration. A note on the shakuhachi may emerge seamlessly from a long silence, or appear suddenly with explosive breath; pitches bend slowly, as if succumbing to gravity, or slowly shimmer with increasing vibrato before leaping elsewhere with unanticipated force and agility. The scrape of the plectrum against the strings of the biwa is sometimes nimble and melodic, but almost percussive in its friction at times of increased drama.
Despite the leisurely pace with which the piece unfolds and the ambiguous sense of trajectory that it conveys, the melodic contours and dramatic inflections are not left to the fancy of the performers. Rather, Takemitsu uses a special kind of notation for each instrument to indicate every nuance of sound shape. The biwa player reads from a special tablature system enhanced by graphic symbols for pitch alterations, attack qualities, and other directives, while the shakuhachi player reads lines and shapes mapped onto a time axis. There is some flexibility in the work's performance; however, portions of the piece may be repeated or juxtaposed at the performer's discretion and the spaces between some events are left unspecified. The biwa player is given additional, if ambiguous, guidance by the insertion into the score of lines of poetry by Rabindranath Tagore. Takemitsu conveys certain emotional suggestions to the performers through another method as well, one in which the image conveyed by the work's title infiltrates the very notation of the piece. Part of the score is rendered as a negative image of white notation against a black background, a visual eclipse to accompany the contrasts of sound color that comprise the essence of the music.