Three Pictures from the Floating World

Three Pictures 1.jpg
Three Pictures 2.jpg
Three Pictures 1.jpg
Three Pictures 2.jpg

Three Pictures from the Floating World


Three Pictures from the Floating World (2017) for bassoon and string trio - 9' 
-bsn, vln, vla, vcl
-Commissioned by Daniel Matsukawa for premiere with the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society

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Program Listing

Three Pictures from the Floating World (2017)
I. Voiles
II. Sirens
III. Ondine

Program Notes

“Three Pictures from the Floating World” is adapted from the bassoon concerto I wrote for Daniel Matsukawa and the Philadelphia Orchestra in 2013. In the concerto there are two intermezzo movements for just bassoon and two cellos. I’ve arranged those two and added a third movement to round out this short work for bassoon quartet.

In keeping with the concerto’s original inspiration, each movement of Three Pictures connects both to Debussy and the “Ukiyo-e” Japanese print-making tradition that fascinated him so (a famous example is The Great Wave from Hokusai’s woodcut series Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji). Translated as “the floating world,” there is a kindred relationship between the imagery and motivation of Ukiyo-e and thoughts behind my own work–the “floating world” describes our lives as beings in nature, while time floats fleetingly by us.

Each of the “Three Pictures” draws its title and musical seeds from pieces by Debussy. Voiles evokes the undulation of sails (or veils) in the wind of the sea. Sirens the seaside voices that beguiled sailors to leap into the ocean. And the Ondine was a mythological elemental spirit of water, who emerged out of the waves to live alongside humans, only to turn into the fountains and springs in her final days. 


"There was a premiere by Curtis faculty composer David Ludwig, his Three Pictures from the Floating World, a reworking of sections of his bassoon concerto with additional new music; the Philadelphia Orchestra and Matsukawa had premiered the concerto, written for him in 2014...The very high register of the bassoon can sound awkward and pinched, but in the hands of Matsukawa it was full-throated, intensely colored, and with the dramatic impact of an operatic diva. Composer Ludwig also exploited this register to great effect…” –