Dreams, Gardens, Mirrors: Layers of Narrative in Takemitsu’s Quotation of Dream

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Takemitsu’s two piano concertante work 'Quotation of Dream: Say Sea, Take Me'! (1991) is typical of the composer’s late works in its rarefied atmosphere and spacious, carefully balanced structure, both qualities which highlight the influence of Claude Debussy. Uniquely within his output, however, here Takemitsu makes this debt explicit: 'Quotation of Dream' is interwoven with a series of direct quotations from Debussy’s 'La Mer', which serve as crucial landmarks in its formal drama. Three metaphors taken from Takemitsu’s writings serve to delimit a number of different layers at which we might perceive the work. We might hear it as a ‘dream’, perceptually immediate and built around bizarre free associations; as a Japanese ‘stroll garden’, where elements recur in ways which seem free but are actually carefully balanced; or as a fractured ‘mirror’ (or even a hall of mirrors), integrating Western and Japanese elements into an ambiguous, unstable whole.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)428-446
Number of pages19
JournalContemporary Music Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 28 Nov 2014

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