Chamber Concerto No. 1 for 8 Musicians(2000)
|Premiere||Spring 2000; Oberlin, Ohio (USA); Warner Concert Hall, Oberlin Conservatory of Music; Conductor: Tim Weiss · International Contemporary Ensemble|
Clarinet in Bb (Bass Clarinet in Bb)
Percussion (1 player)
Orchestra Bell, 1 large Tam-tam, 5 Tom-toms, 4 Brake Drums, Wood Block (high pitch), Flexatone, Bass Drum, Chimes, 1
Timpani (28’’), Suspended Cymbal, Xylophone, Ratchet, Vibraphone, Slapstick
Violin 1 (or Erhu)
YUEH FEI: Chamber Concerto No. 1 for Eight Musicians is the second piece for my chamber concerto cycle, which is an evening-length work with four individual pieces. The other three works are: THE LOST GARDEN: Chamber Concerto No.2 for Eight Musicians (ca. 18 minutes), DIVERGENCE: Chamber Concerto No.3 for Five Musicians (ca. 11 minutes), and CONFLUENCE: Chamber Concerto No.4 for Fifteen Musicians (Ca. 15 minutes). ‘Concerto’, in old Italian, means “to bring together” --- and was used to describe works in which individual lines, either instrumental or vocal, were assembled into a harmonious whole. The whole chamber concerto cycle not only focuses on different individual instrument, but also the ensemble as a dramatic whole and various combinations among them. In other words, it is about dialogues of musical instruments. The whole concerto cycle is linked together both musically and theatrically. Musicians and conductor are asked not only to act with body motions and movements, but also to sing, chant, and speak with their pure human voices. Therefore, these concertos are not just for instruments, but for performers. Thematically, the four concertos can be divided into two circles. The first two are both written for eight players with the same instrumentation; the last two complete the circle of process from divergence to confluence, which also converges the whole cycle. All four concertos can be performed individually as four independent pieces, or in any combination, or together as a full cycle to form an evening-length concert. They represent a journal of my traveling in between both the Western and Eastern sound worlds from the past through today.
YUEH FEI: Chamber Concerto No. 1 for Eight Musicians is based on the epic story of an ancient Chinese folk hero at Song Dynasty named Yueh Fei (1103-1141A.D.), whose exemplary life and career extol the virtues of love, righteousness, loyalty, courage, filial duty, and patriotism. At the birth of Yueh Fei in 1103, a giant eagle circled high above the Yueh residence, inspiring Yueh Fei’s parents to name him “Soaring Eagle”. Yueh fei was a poet as well. One of his poems named “MAN JIAN HONG”, was later set as a folk song which became famous in ancient China. I divided the song into several parts and recreated them, and then I put them into different sections in my piece, mixed with my own musical language and writing. What I am attempting here is to use music to express a contemporary person’s view and feeling on an ancient figure, who is so far away from me but seems very close to me as well. The piece is a crossing point of time, space, death, and life. YUEH FEI: Chamber Concerto No. 1 for Eight Musicians is written for Flute & piccolo, Clarinet & Bass Clarinet, Piano, Percussion, Violin 1, or replaced by Erhu --- a traditional Chinese instrument which only has two strings (D and G string), Violin 2, Viola, and Cello. This work has five movements, which should be continually played. Its duration is around 18 minutes.
– Huang Ruo