Between Tides (1993) by Toru Takemitsu
for violin, cello, and piano

Between Tides, for violin, cello, and piano, evokes the motion of waves by means of weaving melodic gestures and dynamic swells. This single movement work was commissioned by the Berliner Festspiele; it was dedicated to and premiered by Pamela Frank, Yo-Yo Ma, and Peter Serkin. It features a motif based on the notes E-flat (Takemitsu is thinking of the German spelling "Es" of E-flat as "s"), E-natural, and A — a cryptogram that spells "sea." This motif appears in several of his later works relating to water and the ocean.

Between Tides is at times meditative and atmospheric, yet punctuated with swells of expressive dissonance. The influence of Messiaen can be heard in harmonic and rhythmic vocabulary of this piece; the listener may notice echoes of Poèms pour Mi or hints of the movements for violin and piano, and for cello and piano, from Quatuor pour la fin du temps. Takemitsu paints a vivid soundscape evoking the calm between the changing tides as well as the deep tension of conflicting currents.

— B. B.    

[from program for May 15, 2017 concert]