Six Variations on Arirang-OB/BSN/PN
Composer: Mansell, Trevor
Six Variations on Arirang
for oboe, bassoon, and piano
by Trevor Mansell- Canadian composer
Six Variations is a set of variations for oboe, bassoon, and piano, composed for my friend Sohyun Park's 2017 recital at Lynn University. The work is my attempt at creating a fun and charming showpiece based on the Korean folk song, Arirang. Each variation in the work showcases different compositional techniques, harmonies, and textures. I hope that the humor and wit of the piece delights the listener.
The piece begins with a quick introduction with fast sixteenth notes in the form of a canon between all three instruments. The introduction dies away after some quibbling between the instruments and prepares for the statement of the theme. Arirang is stated in the piano with simple harmonies and light chromaticism. The theme then flows into the first variation.
The first variation features the theme in the bassoon and utilizes countermelodies in the oboe and piano. In this variation, I also make use of another folk song, The Ash Grove, disguised in the right hand of the piano. The second variation is light-hearted with quick running scales in the piano and dancing sixteenth notes in the oboe and bassoon. In the third variation, I reduce the theme into its most basic motive, use sparse harmony and changing time signatures to create a simple texture. The fourth variation is a scherzo with humorous dotted figures in the bassoon, staccato notes in the piano and drunk chromatic passages in the oboe. This is immediately followed by the fifth variation, which mimics the lush harmonies and chromaticism of early jazz. The sequence of variations is interrupted by a return of the introduction theme, transformed into a hoedown. After this brief interlude, the sixth variation appears with the oboe and bassoon floating on the running sixteenth notes of the piano. The piece concludes with a grand finale of rapidly descending pentatonic scales.