Desire paths are unsanctioned routes through a landscape: trails worn through the grass to the dirt that can be found everywhere in parks and woodlands where people vote with their feet to go their own way. They invite a creative diversion from preestablished routine, but their increasing clarity over time also imposes its own orthodoxy. Some designers allow time for desire paths to emerge organically, then have them paved them over to canonize them as official walkways. But new desire paths are soon created nonetheless.
My composition invites the listener to trace desire paths through a landscape of varying piano textures. The opening contrast between imposing quasi-maestoso chords and a lyrical rubato melody suggests a person walking through a grand landscape, and the melody returns from time to time throughout the piece in different contexts before disappearing near the end. Elsewhere, contrasts between staccato notes and chords, wide and narrow ranges, or the timbral differences between different registers of the piano become the focus. Throughout the piece the quasi-maestoso music is intercut with episodes of quiet contemplation and playful, even irreverent comedy.
Desire Paths was commissioned by the Yame-Bösendorfer Music Festival Project for the wonderful pianist Mari Asakawa, to whom it is dedicated with gratitude for her musicianship, her friendship, and her patience.
premiere: Mar 17, 2020, Modern to Contemporary Piano Music Seminar, Yame, Fukuoka, Japan
Mari Asakawa, piano.