A jazz piece? No. A piano piece? Yes. Single steps? No. An uninterrupted rest? Yes. Motionless, static through rhythm and melody. A singular work. A Japanese work. Tore Takemitsu. A singular sombre, heavy atmosphere, enhanced by isolated notes, clear as rain drops. Death? An uninterrupted rest. An eternal sleep. How little do we know. How little time do we have to learn. How much time and effort we waste to stay ignorant.
I imagine Pina Bausch coming up with a choreography to this music. She was fascinated by the moving bodies. Expressing death, sleep, motionless through a moving body is the supreme effort. It is like expressing silence through sounds. Takemitsu could do it. Bausch could do it. The masters.
Moving the audience
While I am studying this music and Takemitsu’s idea behind it I am reading an illustrated biography of Pina Bausch (review here), the German dancer and choreographer that revolutionized ballet and invented the Tanztheater (dance theater). The emphasis lies on the art of moving , not the music, not the spoken or song words. She would use all elements to express what she could not express otherwise. Moving was both the finality and the means. “I am less interested in how people move than in what moves them”, she once said because she knew what moved her and she wanted to move the audience.
Bausch died in 2009. Takemitsu died a decade earlier. I am not aware that the two have ever met or knew of each other’s existence. It is of no importance anyway. Close your eyes. Listen to Takemitsu’s “Uninterrupted rest – Three poems on a text by Takiguchi Shuzo”. What do feel? Imagine moving your arms and legs, your head, your hands, your feet, your facial muscles, your fingers, your toes to it. Be your own choreographer. Be free. No one is looking. Feel the essence of music and expression.
Fusing French and Japanese avant-garde
Takemitsu wrote the piece in three movements, the first in 1952, the next two were completed in 1959. It is meant to capture the atmosphere of the original poem. It shows a certain influence of Olivier Messiaen and partly experiments with a more radical 12-note language and an unmeasured metrical notation – each bar is to last three seconds; the ultimate rhythmic responsibility rests with the performer. Roger Woodward has recorded the piece.
Of never folding wings
Callow moth is enduring the weight of the night’s colossal bottle
Transient white statue is frozen from the memory of snow
The winds perching on gaunt twig are adapting to scant light
Ever silent spherical mirror on the hill.
(Shuzo Takiguchi, translated by Noriko Ohtake)
© Charles Thibo