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Art Lange
Fanfare, May 2012

TAKEMITSU, T.: From me flows what you call time / SHOSTAKOVICH, D.: Symphony No. 5 (Yutaka Sado) (NTSC) 2058748
TAKEMITSU, T.: From me flows what you call time / SHOSTAKOVICH, D.: Symphony No. 5 (Yutaka Sado) (Blu-ray, Full-HD) 2058744

In response to the devastating earthquake and tsunami that stuck Japan in March 2011, the Berlin Philharmonic and the media company EuroArts organized this charity concert to aid the victims.

The choice of Toru Takemitsu’s From Me Flows What You Call Time, with an implicit spirituality and reverence of Nature evoked in its extensive, exotic percussive component, symbolically represents the healing force of Time. The five solo percussionists tap, clatter, and clang on bamboo rattles, small hand cymbals, bass marimbas, small bowls, steel drums, and other instruments including colored streamers attached to ceiling chimes, and being able to watch them in their quasi-ritualistic ministrations helps bring the music to life. Meanwhile, Sado coordinates the sweep of the Impressionistically luxurious orchestra, with more than one allusion to La Mer perhaps an ironic inevitability.

…[Sado’s] intense, concentrated Largo emphasizes the music’s [Shostakovich Fifth] anguish, and he storms through the finale, following the current convention of deceleration to a thunderous conclusion. It’s a thoroughly convincing and in some ways gripping performance, thanks in large part to the brilliance of the orchestra.

The visual aspect of the concert is never distracting, and frequently instructive, as the editing follows the music’s progress, shows us relevant instruments from various points of view when appropriate, and captures the conductor’s inspiring energy and enthusiasm. For humanitarian as well as musical reasons, this is definitely an important release. © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review on Fanfare

Dan Morgan
MusicWeb International, April 2012

From me flows what you call time, based on a poem by the Japanese poet Makota Doka, has a strong visual element that really comes to life on video; the five percussionists, who make their way on to the stage as the piece begins, are dressed in red (fire), blue (water), green (wind), yellow (earth) and white (sky), the long ribbons to the left and right of the orchestra representing the colours of the Tibetan flag. These vibrant, eye-catching tones are complemented most beautifully by the ear-catching ones produced by this exotic array of instruments.

Anyone remotely familiar with this composer’s œuvre will recognise those rhythmic cells and subtly alternating sonorities, the work beginning with a solo flute melody of Debussian languor and loveliness. The dialogues between soloists—which seem like improvisation at times—are fascinating to watch, their sometimes unearthly timbres well caught by the engineers. It certainly doesn’t feel like a half-hour piece, such is the level of invention and interest, and I was surprised at how intensely moving it all is. Deeply satisfying, this is a perfect introduction to Takemitsu’s engrossing sound world.

The context of Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony—‘an artist’s reply to just criticism’—is well documented, as is the debate about what the composer actually ‘says’ here.

Seconds into the Moderato and it seems this is to be a cool, rather urbane reading, in which Sado tends to ‘parenthesise’ musical phrases—a habit I’ve noticed with Ozawa—whereas Bernstein and others achieve a compelling seamlessness throughout. There’s little of the tic under the skin that one often hears at this stage, and I began to wonder if this would be yet another run-through of an oft-played symphony. Then, without warning, that swaggering march tune arrives and the mask of urbanity slips. Goodness, the Berliners really let rip here, the brass especially taunting. Even more telling is the return of that rocking tune, as spectral as I’ve ever heard it, summoning the legion of ghosts that haunt these symphonies.

At the start of the second movement Sado’s exaggerated phrasing signals a bit of japery. More than most, Shostakovich must have known when it was politic to play the Fool; and what a motley display this is, that bucolic fiddle tune—so Mahlerian—deliciously done, those parting timp shots the musical equivalent of an exeunt omnes. After that public display comes a very private one, the Largo a searching soliloquy that peaks in anguished string writing of extraordinary reach and power. The Berliners are sans pareil here, the xylophone sounding even more like a string being tuned to breaking point. The air of resignation at the close is unmistakable, that rapt quietude all the more poignant in the light of what’s to come.

And how does the DVD compare with the Blu-ray? There are some cosmetic differences—for instance, the menu on the Blu-ray is more elegant—but otherwise there’s not much in it. So, if you have a well set up Blu-ray system I’d say the premium over DVD is definitely worth it.

This is a most rewarding disc, and while Sado yields to Bernstein in the symphony it’s a very close race. But really it’s the Takemitsu that makes this issue so memorable; not only is it a work of unusual depth and distinction, it’s also a feast for even the most jaded palates. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Philip Clark
Gramophone, March 2012

TAKEMITSU, T.: From me flows what you call time / SHOSTAKOVICH, D.: Symphony No. 5 (Yutaka Sado) (NTSC) 2058748
TAKEMITSU, T.: From me flows what you call time / SHOSTAKOVICH, D.: Symphony No. 5 (Yutaka Sado) (Blu-ray, Full-HD) 2058744

Yutaka Sado is confident enough to carve the space up like a dislocating procession: tinkling percussive charms fade back into the silence that birthed them, held in place by freewheeling logic.

The percussionists…wear the colours of the Tibetan flag, and talking of landmark moments, pull ribbons that shake wind chimes suspended from the ceiling…windows of structural solidity are mirages inside music that otherwise keeps you alert and listening precisely…the ardent power of the slow movement rhymes nicely with a suitably stony-faced finale. © 2012 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone

Robert Benson, December 2011

…an impressive occasion in every way, with full-bodied playing by the famous orchestra, and Sado in top form. The Shostakovich is given a direct, powerful reading building to a powerful climax. The bonus interview features Sado talking about his life and the music. Video and audio are excellent. This is a fine issue, highly recommended. © 2011 Read complete review

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9:58:37 PM, 9 October 2015
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