A way a lone II
For String Orchestra. (1981; 14:18 min.)

1. Presentation Theme
2. Variation I: based on Fifths
3. Variation II: based on chromatic scales and fourths
4. Variation III: based on arpeggios
5. Variation IV: based on chromatic scales and fourths
6. Variation V: based on triplets rhythm
7. Coda


Toru Takemitsu's A way a lone II
A way a lone II is an orchestral expansion of Takemitsu's String Quartet No. 1, A way a lone. It is very similar to the parent quartet, with the additional strings adding a deeper richness to the overall sound.

Notes

Like Takemitsu's other Joyce works, inspiration for this piece comes from the "final & first" passage of Finnegans Wake, 620.11 to 620.15, which I reprint below, with the relevant text highlighted in red:

FW 620.11-15
I'd die down over his feet, humbly dumbly, only to washup. Yes,
tid. There's where. First. We pass through grass behush the bush
to. Whish! A gull. Gulls. Far calls. Coming, far! End here. Us
then. Finn, again! Take. Bussoftlhee, mememormee! Till
thousendsthee. Lps. The keys to. Given ! A way a lone a last a loved a

FW 3.1-3
riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend
of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to
Howth Castle and Environs.

 Excerpts from the liner notes from the Denon Compact Disc, written by Ito Oya and Toru Takemitsu:

Liner notes written by Ito Oya:
This work is an arrangement for string orchestra of A way a lone, which Takemitsu composed to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the Tokyo String Quartet.
The theme is presented at the outset of the work. This is followed by a set of free variations much in the manner of jazz improvisation. This impression is reinforced by Takemitsu's stylish use of occasional jazz harmonies within the strictly conceived developmental process of the work. On the other hand, the intricate writing and the diversity of tone colour bring to mind the music of the Second Viennese School.
There is nothing in the score to clarify the start of each variation, but index numbers are employed here to indicate the formal divisions of the work into theme, four variations, and coda. The main thematic elements are three pitches seperated by semitones, a leap of a diminished fifth, a leap of a perfect fourth, and the intervals of major and minor thirds. One of these elements ids emphasised in each of the four ensuing variations.

Program notes written by Toru Takemitsu:
The title, "A way a lone," is taken from a passage in "Finnegans Wake" by James Joyce, which reads as follows:
"The keys to Given! A way a lone a last a long the" (FW 628)
As in "Far Calls. Coming, far" for violin and orchestra, this work is governed by the three keys found in the word "Sea" (E-flat, E, A).

CD Information

A way a lone II has two accessible versions: the Telarc (#80469) version (pictured above) performed by I Fiamminghi and matched with Black Rain; and the Denon (#18032) vresion, played by the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra and matched with other similar works. Although I have yet to hear the Telarc disc, I am rather fond of the Denon. The other works are very similar and make perfect matches, all containing a dark and autumnal feel influenced by both impressionism and serialism; yet completey flavored by Takemitsu's original and hard-to-define style.
You may listen to sound samples and/or purchase Toru Takemitsu CDs online from Amazon.com below:

Takemitsu: Autumn, A Way a Lone II, etc / Numajiri, et al
$14.99; Toru Takemitsu(Composer), et al / Audio CD / Released 1997

Music of Takemitsu / Rudolf Werthen, I Fiamminghi
$14.37; Toru Takemitsu(Composer), et al / Audio CD / Released 1998


More Takemitsu

String Quartet No. 1, "A way a lone" -- (1980) A string quartet inspired by Finnegans Wake.

Far calls. Coming, far! -- (1980) For violin and orchestra.

riverrun -- (1989) For piano and orchestra. This page also has the most comprehensive notes on Takemitsu, and discusses the four pieces as a whole.

--A. Ruch
15 December 2000
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