Variations on a Japanese Song (2017)

Horn and marimba. 10'

Variations on the song "Kojo no Tsuki," [ 荒城の月 ] by Rentaro Taki, or "The Moon over a Ruined Castle" (1901) (accompaniment by Kosaku Yamada). This piece was originally written for the Spiral Staircase Duo and premiered at the 2017 Greater Kansas City Japan Festival. After a statement of the simple, yet eloquent theme in its original Schubertian presentation, the ensuing six variations re-evaluate the subject from ever more distant perspectives: the ruined castle broods through time, displaced from its own context, but always relit by the evolving contexts around it. By the final coda, Taki's theme remains in the horn, but stands starkly removed from the rhythm and harmony around it. And here the iridescent marimba still shines on, the moon, enveloping and filtering through the theme.

Performance History:

  • ​7 October 2017, Greater Kansas City Japan Festival, Johnson County Community College Yardley Hall, Overland Park, KS. Spiral Staircase Duo: Eric Hessel, horn; Mai Tadokoro Hessel, marimba. (2 Performances)
  • ​recorded 20 December 2017, University of North Texas College of Music Recital Hall, Denton, TX. Spiral Staircase Duo.
  • 13 March 2018, University of Kansas Swarthout Recital Hall, Lawrence, KS. Spiral Staircase Duo
  • 25 May 2018, Cortona Sessions for New Music, Cortona Italy. Spiral Staircase Duo.
  • ​25 September 2018, Otsukimi Moon Viewing Festival, Dallas, TX. Spiral Staircase Duo
  • 28 September 2018, Austin College Craig Recital Hall, Sherman, TX. Spiral Staircase Duo
  • 20 January 2019, Dallas Japanese Association New Year’s Party, Plano, TX. Spiral Staircase Duo
  • ​​24 October 2020, Kidd-Key Auditorium, Sherman, TX. Spiral Staircase Duo. Virtual Performance