Ladies & Gentlemen, thank you for coming to Chinese Classic Music concert
tonight. My name is Zou Lu and I am your emcee tonight. On behalf of the
sponsor Singapore AMOY Association, We are delighted with the attendance by you
all and wish all of you a wonderful evening.
Following its world premiere by Pan Yinlin, ‘Golden Furnace’ immediately achieved widespread popularity with audiences in China. The work has its origins in a labour song popular in the 1950s entitled ‘Chairman Mao’s Brilliance can Light the Furnace’. The work opens with an improvisation on the piano that establishes the spirit of optimism to inspire the steel workers of Shanghai, for whom the piece was originally intended for. The violin writing is one of brilliance and lyricism replete with soaring melodies typical of Chen Gang.
苗岭的早晨 Morning of Miao Mountain
Morning of Miao Mountain brings the listener to the idyllic landscape of Miao Ling, a rural area in the mountain ranges of China. From the opening notes on the violin, this piece paints an aural picture of a village enveloped in the mistiness of dawn, replete with the chirps of the birds. Chen Gang explores the various playing techniques on the violin, imitating the bird-calls with great vividness. In all, this composition expresses the beautiful qualities of the ethnic minorities of China and the harmonious relationship between Man and Nature.
鼓与歌Drum and Song
Folk customs play a central role in this lively depiction of a rustic scene. With the use of rhythms, Chen Gang creates a highly-charged atmosphere of a village celebration complete with an array of Chinese drums and songs. Consisting of three sections, Drum and Song opens with a lively introduction on the piano, featuring a dance-like melody punctuated by chords, establishing the energetic character of the piece before the entrance of the violin. This is contrasted by an interlude of lyrical nature where the piano introduces a theme that calls to mind the guzheng (Chinese plucked zither). This is followed by the return of the lively main theme, bringing the celebrations to a rousing climax.
Love Song paints a touching image of two lovers perched by the lake at dusk, expressing their mutual affection with songs. In a way, Love Song could be a continuation of Morning of Miao Mountain where the lovers take centre-stage in the evening after a day of bustling activity in the mountains from dawn.
The mutual expression of affection between the lovers is reflected in the music through the dialogue between the piano and the violin. The style of writing is highly improvisatory with its use of arpeggios, tremolos and trills accompanied by frequent alternations in rhythm and harmonies.
阳光照耀着塔什库尔干Sunshine Over Tashkuergan
A virtuosic composition showcasing the ethnic minorities of China, Sunshine over Tashkuergan is based on two songs Beautiful Tashkuergan and a solo dizi (Chinese flute) composition, The Spring of Pamir. The songs depict the singing and dancing of the Tajik people, dressed in radiant ethnic costumes, full of optimism for the future and celebrating their love of life.
Opening with a prologue in the form of a broad free-style improvisation, it immediately transports the listener to the vast plains of Tashkuergan in Xinjiang, China. This is followed by a passionate melody of the Tajik herdsmen, introduced on the high registers of the violin. The melody becomes increasingly agitated before receding into the background. A cadenza ensues which leads into the second section of this piece. A bright and energetic dance, this episode depicts the dancing of the Tajik people. Besides exploring the virtuosic qualities of the violin, Chen Gang also employs frequent changes in meter and syncopation, enhancing the vividness of this folk dance. Finally, the opening theme of the prologue is reinstated by the violin. Gradually accelerating in tempo, this brings the music to a rousing finale.
吕文成 Lu Wencheng (1898-1981)
陈培勋改编 arr. Chen Peixun (b. 1921)
平湖秋月 Autumn Moon on a Calm Lake
A composition of ethereal beauty, the music has its origins in Guangdong, poetically evoking the tranquil shimmers of the lake under the gentle autumn moonlight. The harmonic language employed in this piece is wholly pentatonic with the melody decorated with musical ornaments.
The prominent Chinese pianist, Lang Lang provides a most apt description: “I picture the most beautiful, romantic lake in China. The music has a glowing harmony that conjures up the image of a leaf gently floating on that lake. The feeling it produces is like meditation, or t'ai chi: emotional, though not direct."
贺绿汀He Luting (1903-1999)
牧童短笛 The Cowherd's Flute
The 1930s saw the establishment of the piano in China as a solo instrument. It was then when the Russian composer Alexander Tcherepnin organized a composition competition in 1934 which gave birth to the first Chinese melody that received polyphonic treatment.
Written in ternary form, the piece opens with a melody of pastoral nature with an improvisatory character. This is followed by a dance-like section that gradually gains its momentum before subsiding to pave way for the reinstatement of the original melody. The element of counterpoint and child-like simplicity challenges us to think if this would be the type of music Bach and Mozart could have written collectively if they were born in China.
云南民歌五首 Five Yunnan Folk Songs
王建中改编 arr. Wang Jianzhong (b. 1933)
宋子良(Improvisation – to translate Improvisation) improvisation by Song Ziliang (b. 1984)
大理姑娘 Dali Girl
跟哥 Following the Brother
猜谜 Puzzle Tune
山歌 Mountain Song
龙灯调 Dragon Lantern Tune
In this selection of Yunnan Folk Songs, originally arranged by Wang Jian Zhong, the musician Song Ziliang would like to pay tribute to his Chinese roots from the perspective of a 3rd generation Singaporean. The style would be an amalgamation of Eastern and Western styles, the former exploring the musician’s heritage and the latter, the musical tradition in which he was trained in.