Note: Still catching up on a lot of things. Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso is one of those things.
Although episode 3 of Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso has none of the grand performances of the previous episode, it does feature a serendipitous moment that uses a piece from one of my favorite musical conventions: the theme and variations. What typically happens in a theme and variations is that the composer starts the audience off with a theme to serve as the melodic foundation. The composer then plumbs the depths for musical adornments and alterations that together, create a riveting, imaginative affair.
So on this day, after the violin competition, Kousei and Kaori find themselves in a small pastry shop. As the two settle in, they notice a girl playing a familiar French tune from the patisserie’s piano: “Ah! vous dirai-je, Maman,” or, for the rest of us, the melody to “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” (among other things). Kaori immediately recognizes that it’s not just any old version of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” but Mozart’s rendition of it.
Such a melody can seem like such a trifle, something that one shouldn’t even be bothered with. But in Mozart’s hands, the melody is given new life and it absolutely soars. So with that, here is Christoph Eschenbach, performing Mozart’s Twelve Variations on “Ah vous dirai-je, Maman”:
Twelve Variations on “Ah vous dirai-je, Maman” (Mozart)
From the simple melody we’ve come to know and love, Mozart imparts a whimsical aura unto the piece, gives it a stirring rendition, allows it to meander from buoyant curiosities (I love the section that starts at 3:28) to meditative reflections (5:32), and finally rushes with glee towards the end. Save for a few sections, the piece revels in its childish delights, retaining a charming atmosphere that will thrill listeners of all ages.
Now, Kousei’s encounter with the piece doesn’t end well because it brings up painful memories that continually haunt him, but it was still nice to be able to hear one of my favorite Mozart pieces in the anime.
Bonus: Mozart wasn’t the only one to have tackled this theme, though he may have been the inspiration for it. So here’s one by the Hungarian composer, Ernst von Dohnanyi, whose variation on the theme can be heard starting at 3:30:
Variations on a Nursery Tune (Dohnanyi)