Among the many piano works by Japanese composers that I have performed, I find a unique sense of sound in the works of Toru Takemitsu. Amid the contemporary trend towards ever greater diversification of sound, his works seem to have been constructed in resolute pursuit of what might be termed 'active space'. Although contact between Takemitsu and many of the avant-garde generation beginning with John Cage was close and extensive, there was a considerable gap between the kinds of 'resonance' they sought. Takemitsu's works give consistent evidence to his commitment to 'sounding across the air', the idea that the gathering of resonance occurs precisely in a momentary insight. Takemitsu, of course, also put his hand to electronic music and theater pieces, but in the end these were not genres that he took to. They were too different from 'sound' realized in unforeseen present.
With the piano solo works Lent in Due Movimenti (1950) and Uninterrupted Rest (1951), Takemitsu leapt into the limelight, subsequently producing a stylistically varied body of works. In this study, I have focused on representative works for piano solo and for piano in ensemble, considering the kind of 'resonance' Takemitsu sought from the viewpoint of the performer and the 'idiom' on which his works are founded, rather than 'pianism' or 'technique'
The piano is in sense a perfect musical instrument, yielding maximum effect with great economy of means. At the same time, the piano is therefore also a highly rationalized and standardized instrument. It is nonetheless inconceivable that the piano fall into desuetude or that composers cease to write for this instrument. Rather, composers of this century are faced with the challenge of discovering how the piano can be played in order to produce a 'resonance' that is uniquely their own. Taking such contradictions and challenges into consideration and bringing various contemporary ideas to bear on the question, I have sought to demonstrate in this study how an original sense of 'resonance' can be found in the piano works of Toru Takemitsu.