Composer: Kenji Fujimura – Australia
Reviewer: Charles Higgins, North Carolina, USA
I was not at all surprised to find out Au Revoir by Kenji Fujimura was on the short list. There is a beauty in the piece’s simplicity that anyone can latch on to. The work feels open, weightless, and natural. I’m sure this openness also allows a lot of freedom for both performers to add even more depth when the piece is performed. It wasn’t easy choosing what I enjoyed most. Each element of the piece makes the work incredibly cohesive when put together. After numerous listens, I finally decided on two aspects of the piece that I want to write about the most.
The first of my favorite features of Au Revoir is the way Fujimura uses leaps of large intervals in the melodic line. He uses a few perfect intervals to heighten the strength of the line, but I was more affected by some of the other leaps, specifically:
-G to F# (ascending major 7th) in measure 6
-A to C# (descending minor 6th) in measures 12-13
-F# to G# (descending minor 7th) in measure 15
For me, these large spaces in between pitches (particularly the dissonant 7th intervals) shaped the emotions that I drew from the first 18 measures. Also, they add a sense of unpredictability and uniqueness to a seemingly straightforward passage that keeps the listener’s attention. The next few phrases that follow use a lot more stepwise motion. I appreciated this contrast because it gives the piece a sense of moving forward and prevents it from seeming stagnant. But, the leap between the D and C# in measure 36 felt well placed, and helps the listener understand that the next phrase will be more like the first one.
I also really enjoyed listening to the section that starts at measure 43. In thinking about the piano accompaniment as a whole, part of me wishes that it came out a bit more, but another part of me thinks it functions perfectly within the piece as is. It focuses mostly on outlining chord changes, but there are a lot of subtle parts that add to the atmosphere of the piece without drawing too much attention to themselves. The line in the right hand starting in measure 43 stood out to me in particular because it felt like the piano part had been growing from the first measure up to that point. If you listen closely to the recording (or look at the score), you can hear that the piano line gradually becomes richer and incorporates more of the instrument’s range. The piano is then finally brought into greater focus in measure 43 with a captivating run of 16th notes paired with the opening melody played by the violin. This elegantly written piano line, combined with a more restrained violin part stood out to me on the first listen, and still grabs my attention after many listens. One reason I think it sounds so nice is that the tempo is slow enough so that each individual 16th note is given time to exist by itself, distinguishable from the rest.
Au Revoir by Kenji Fujimura was well deserving of a place on the short list, and it was great to be able to hear the piece live at May 10th concert. As with all the other submissions, I am thankful that I had the opportunity to listen to and analyze the score for Au Revoir. Not only was it enjoyable for me as a listener, I also learned a lot that will help my composing in the future.
– Charles Higgins, Composer and Student