Toru Takemitsu's "Fantasma/Cantos"

Tashi plays Takemitsu, CD #6 front

I just want to be sure that everyone who buys the 40-CD box realizes that the cover of CD#6, "Tashi plays Takemitsu," doesn't reveal that Toru's concerto for clarinet and orchestra, "Fantasma/Cantos," is a very special bonus addition. I recorded this profoundly beautiful music 10 years later with Tadaaki Otaka and the BBC Welsh Symphony Orchestra.

Toru imagined the orchestra as a Japanese garden designed in the "go- round" style. As you enter the garden, you experience the stones, trees, water, and foliage from an initial vantage point. Moving along the circular path, you begin to glimpse the same elements of the garden from different angles until reaching a kind of halfway moment of calm and balance before proceeding again round the garden, ending at the very same starting point which is exactly the beginning yet now, seen again with the experience of the circular path, feels suddenly changed. So Toru, after opening the garden with three breathing chords, starts the clarinetist on this journey using the tritone interval, linked to an upper 1/2 step which then moves chromatically downward to a perfect fourth. Immediately the orchestral garden reflects, refracts, and marvelously colors this view as the clarinetist begins to explore transpositions and embellishments. As we follow the clarinetist to that point midway round the garden, he experiences a moment which Toru marks "calm and ecstatic." Forward motion stops and the clarinet ascends a simple, single scale floating on an exquisitely orchestrated sustained chord in woodwinds and strings. This magic moment divined by Toru is like nothing else I've ever experienced.

While I was studying the manuscript of the score, which Toru sent to me before it had been published, he asked me if I thought the description he gave to the clarinet solo at that point was somehow not right. I told him it was wonderful, inspiring. But unfortunately, according to Toru, someone in charge of proofreading the music for publication had told him that he had mistakenly linked two English words which had opposite meanings and therefore the printed score would be "corrected" and the word ecstatic would not be included!

All I can say is that I am so happy I had the good fortune to be the first clarinetist to see the manuscript. When I copied out my clarinet part by hand (because I couldn't wait for a printed solo part) "calm and ecstatic" entered my consciousness forever and whenever I arrive at that precious moment in a performance I am lifted up by that quietly ascending scale blissfully aware of the impossible made musically manifest.

© Richard Stoltzman

Click here for a video of Toru Takemitsu discussing "Fantasma/Cantos" at a performance of it by Richard Stoltzman with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra conducted by Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos.

Tashi plays Takemitsu CD #6 back

Recordings: New York City, RCA Studio A, October 16-18, 1978 [1-3]; May 10-12, 1977 [5/6]; Wales, Swansea, Brangwyn Hall, June 2, 1992 [4]
Producers: Max Wilcox; Peter Serkin [1-3, 5/6]
Recording Engineers: Max Wilcox; Ray Hall [1-3, 5/6]; Simon Rhodes [4]
Publishers: G. Schirmer / Éditions Salabert [1-3]; Schott Music / European American [4]; Universal Edition [5/6]
℗ 1980 [1-3]; 1983 [5/6], 1994 [4] Sony Music Entertainment