2004 Lawrence Tuczynski

Title: Film Music By Toru Takemitsu Vol. 1
CD Label: Victor Musical Industries, Inc.
CD Number: VICG-5124
Music by: Toru Takemitsu
Number of tracks: 6
Running time: 65:50
Number of discs: 1
Year of release/manufacture: 12-16-1990

REVIEW

April 30, 2002

Toru Takemitsu is the same composer who did the soundtrack to Akira Kurosawa's "RAN". I loved that soundtrack and movie. Among the tracks here is a 27:18 track for "Kaidan" which I am told is the complete music for that movie. I must say I was somewhat disappointed with the music on this CD. I am sure it works very well in the films they belong to but otherwise none of the tracks jumped out and grabbed me like the music in "RAN" did. The first two tracks were somewhat muted, dreary tracks definitely for use in the background of a film. Track three was pretty decent and came across like love theme. Track 4 was a jazz/big band type track and was my favorite with track 3 being my second favorite. Track 5 isn't bad. Mellow slow background music. Track 6 is another slow background type music. I guess except for the first two tracks the rest of this CD could grow on you with repeated listens.

I added this CD here on the Kurosawa page because it really doesn't fit anywhere else and because Toru Takemitsu was the composer of "RAN" and two other CD's by him are on this page. If I get anymore I'll have to start another section of the composers page for Toru Takemitsu.

Additional comments by Nicholas D. Kent

The material here from "Kaidan" the complete standard album suite of the film's borderline musique concrete score. Takemitsu sound designed the whole rather long film including experimental sound effects so it's sort of open as to what is the complete score. None the less this version is worthwhile as it seems to be how the composer wanted the work to be heard on album without the film. The distortion BTW is afaik intentional (as is the bizarre use of extremely out of sync sounds in the haunted house story).

As to "Ran" - Well the 2 split of the Milan version are just due to the suite being initially prepared for LP release.

It might help in people's understanding of Takemitsu (as you mention you wanted to hear more music like "RAN") Unfortunately you won't find more music by Takemitsu like "Ran" because Kurosawa explicitly asked that the Western Classical orchestral score portions be as much like Gustav Mahler as possible. This info has been documented by various researchers of Takemitsu and Kurosawa, but in my case it was before the era of the internet so I wound up asking the composer in person. Takemitsu pointed out that Kurosawa was nicknamed "The Emperor". If you haven't already heard it, perhaps you can listen Mahler's symphonic song cycle "Das Lied von der Erde", listen to the final movement for a very "Ran"-like experience right down to an Asian influence in that movement.

To me his personal style clearly is trying to take Debussy's later period impressionistic style on to the next phase. He added techniques and sounds of traditional Japanese classical music along with a modernism probably most influenced by Olivier Messiaen. His film scores clearly were a sort of getaway to try his hand at other styles if the score lent itself - so he'd do jazz club numbers, sentimental pop songs, Turkish music, what have you.

"Sharaku" (1995) was his last score (a full length album was released) - what in hindsight is ironic in that while not at all it's details but in overall concept I hear a resemblance to Herrmann's last score "Taxi Driver" as they both swing (teeter?) between jazz elements and the composer's own recognizable individualistic style... though the Herrmann score showed the effect of rather controversial re-orchestration in the final mix.

P.S. I'd put the Volume 4, the Teshigahara disc on my personal 10 best soundtrack collections list myself. But one would be correct to assume his body of film scores is pretty devoid of the bold and brooding adventure of Ifukube.

  1. Kaidan (27:18)
  2. Seppuku (16:02)
  3. Moeru Aki (03:13)
  4. Karami-Ai (05:23)
  5. Nihon No Seishun (05:53)
  6. Kaseki (08:01)