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The following note is by the composer:
Fleeting Shadows is a love song to the memory of my father, who taught me so much. He had immigrated to America from a rice farm in Japan in 1916, eventually became a jeweler. He was an amateur violinist, who gave me my first very primitive violin lessons. He was also a Sensei of Kendo (that is, a teacher of Japanese martial arts) who gave me my first tumble in Karate! I followed his example, learning to play the violin, and also eventually earning a black belt in Shoto-kan Karate.
The piece is also a loving portrait of my four cats, Yuki, Kabuki, Rocky, and Red, whose feline virtues of loyalty, affection, grace and speed, are expressed in each of the four movements: I. Yuki, the mother, seductive and affectionate (and my favorite). II. Kabuki, the father, proud and prancing. III. Rocky, the first born, playful and mischievous. IV. Red, the adopted newcomer, feral and fun.
Each of these sections also suggests a Kata, a specific sequence of moves (often modeled on feline movements) in Karate, designed to strengthen mind and body.
Musically there are two principal themes running throughout all the movements: the first is an atonal falling line (like a sigh), while the second is a dance tune suggesting a Japanese folk melody. If the bassoon is the soul of this music, then the piano is clearly its feet! The fourth movement is thematically the most outrageous, with its tongue-in-cheek Ragtime intrusion.
I am pleased that my friend David Breidenthal, who has championed my music over the years with generosity and artistry, commissioned this composition.