The room was passably warm by now. The tea and a cigarette worked their short-lived magic. He began to feel a little less bored and angry. Should he do a spot of work after all? He ought to work, of course. He always hated himself afterwards when he had wasted a whole evening.

(George Orwell, Keep the Aspidistra Flying)

Takemitsu is a very important composer for me, for all sorts of reasons. I do think there are few composers who can write music as sheerly beautiful as his – those who think modern music is of necessity ugly simply don’t know they are born.

In all sincerity, in simple sonic terms there is nothing in all music as ravishing as, say, From me flows what you call time, which seems to me to go about as far as music can go in its particular direction. The danger is that the music becomes too sensuous and loses its spine – this is not to say that it needs to be faster, louder or more abrasive, but that it skirts with becoming inconsequential unless there is more substance there – in the piece I’ve cited, which I am loathe to criticise, the motivic material holding it all together is possibly stretched pretty thin. But in other works, Takemitsu’s finest, this is not a problem, and everything is held in miraculous balance.



Arts

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