山水客 is an open-air teahouse in Maokong, Taipei, Taiwan. This work depicts three thoughts relating to my experience having Jinxuan Oolong tea on a rather overcast day at this establishment. The tea was brewed and enjoyed in the Gongfu Cha (功夫茶) style, which, in its rituals, encourages appreciation and respect for all aspects of the tea-brewing method and environment. This sonata for flute and piano aims to portray the soundscape and emotions admiring views, drinking tea, and walking in light rain though the mountains in Maokong.
The first movement, 山 (mountain), is a reflection of wonderment. To access Maokong, one must either drive through winding mountainous roads or ride a system of gondolas to reach the peaceful, teahouse-filled town. Not for the claustrophobic or acrophobic, these gondolas nonetheless offer exhilaration and spectacular views. Upon arriving in town, a system of walking trails and tight roads allow an even higher elevation to be reached. 山 explores the feeling of walking further and further (and thus, higher and higher) along these paths, stopping occasionally to admire the ever-shrinking cities down below.
Taiwan generally experiences temperate winter weather, but it is not unusual to be caught in a gentle afternoon rain on an otherwise cloudless day. The 水 (water) in the second movement refers to two contrasting studies of water: the misty mountain rain and the water poured from kettle to teapot to gaiwan (蓋碗) to cup. This movement embodies the idea of drifting clouds and flowing water (行雲流水), a component of the tea ceremony.
Because the written Chinese language is multi-faceted and open to interpretation, the character 客 can hold a variety of meanings dependent on its context. In the name of the teahouse, the character most likely means "customer," but outside of this usage, it could just as easily mean "visitor," "guest," or "traveler." I found myself to be a combination of all of these words in Taiwan. I was graciously welcomed into shops and homes as a customer and guest, I was approached on the street and helped by strangers as a visitor, and I made my way through in this lovely little island as a traveler, open to the joy and wonderment that travel and adventure can bring.
(Written May-June 2017)
Flute: Lisa Cella
Piano: Thomas Rosenkranz
performed and recorded at soundSCAPE in Maccagno, IT, July 2017