Toru Takemitsu, is a composer who set out to write on European lines (including avant-garde electronics) but who has also composed for traditional Japanese instruments, even combining them with western and specifically Japanese influences are more incidental, Takemitsu having evolved a highly individualistic style. Rain Tree is the second of a sequence of four pieces collectively entitled Waterscape. (Garden Rain for brass ensemble had been written in 1974 and the two orchestral works, Rain Coming and Rain Spell followed in 1982.) It takes its title from a novel by the acclaimed writer Kenzaburo Oe, The Ingenious Rain Tree (Atama no Ii Ame no Ki): "The tree is called the Rain Tree because its lush foliage still sprinkles the previous night's drops of rain onto the ground in the following afternoon."
Takemitsu's piece for two marimba and vibraphone, all three players doubling up on crotales depicts those drops with great precision. The first intermittent droplets falling in the crotales soon become a cascade, the two marimbas moving in and out of phase while the vibraphone provides a rhythmic and harmonic foundation. This is the most experimental of the works on the disc, not only in its harmonic language, organic form, occasional passages incorporating limited improvisation and lack of any sense of forward momentum, but also in the atmospheric lighting effects suggested in the score. In the latter half of the piece, the stored up raindrops fall in bursts of greater force and then in a more constant shower before gradually falling off, leaving stillness and peace.