The Moon Through the Clouds: Mozart over the Tsugaru Strait

the moon through the clouds mozart over the tsugaru strait

Standing at the peak of Mount Hakodate, I gaze at the Shimokita Peninsula across the Tsugaru Strait in Aomori. When I raise my eyes to the clear night sky, I see the rising full moon.

Full moon over the Tsugaru Strait. (2008)

If that moon were music by Mozart, it would be the first movement, Allegro, from his Piano Concerto no 27. Beauty in full bloom.

As I watch, strands of clouds dance across the face of the moon, concealing and revealing its glow in turn.

The moon through clouds over a calm Tsugaru Strait with fishing fires. (2008)

“Even the moon is unpleasant unless seen through clouds”—thus asserted Murata Jukō, the fifteenth-century tea master and originator of the Japanese-style tea ceremony. For Jukō, moonlight filtered through swirling cloud inspired more emotion than the bright silver disc in full. In both the tea ceremony and the night sky, dazzling perfection paled before the beauty of the imperfect and incomplete.

Wreathed in clouds, the moon embodies the Larghetto, my favorite movement of Mozart’s concerto. Vienna-born pianist Ingrid Haebler, one of Mozart’s most respected interpreters, plays this movement with lucid, lyrical beauty. The music shimmers and ripples like moonlight glinting on the becalmed strait.

In the morning, sunlight pours through morning cloud cover to make the waters of the strait shine. This is the enchanting charm of the third movement, another Allegro.

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