For soprano, violin and piano (and stopwatch).
Matsuo Bashō (1644-1694) is a legendary Japanese poet who adored moon viewing. The so-called tsukimi is an ancient festival in honour of the autumn moon. This could be done at parties where dumplings (dango’s) were eaten and naturally also the moon was observed, preferably via a rippleless surface of a lake. The tsukimi is still a very popular tradition. Sometimes, the moon is not visible because of clouds or rain. Bashō wrote a poem (specifically, haiku) about it:
kumo wori wori 雲をりをり
hito wo yasumuru 人を休むる
tsukimi kana 月見哉
Which could be translated as:
clouds now and then
a moon viewing
giving me rest
The interpretation could be more profound than it initially seems, especially from Bashō’s point of view: Bashō, fascinated with moon viewing, is constantly with his head ‘in the clouds’. Due to clouds sometimes appearing before the moon, it is possible for him to return to himself. Otherwise, he could forget himself entirely.
The piece Clouds, Now and Then is written for soprano, violin and piano and is inspired by the haiku above. The soprano recites the Japanese haiku in a melismatic way, accompanied by a sterile but colourful line played by the violin. It almost sounds like tangible moonlight. After each singing moment, the violin reacts in a virtuosic and calligraphical way. The piano connects to the poetic whole by growing several types of musical clouds. How will the moon viewing continue?
Enjoy playing Clouds, Now and Then! Purchase the score here!
Maurick Reuser, 19 October 2021