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ClassicsOnline Home » Glory to Our Great Kings (Thai Piano Music)
Nat Yontararak (b.1954)
Glory To Our Great Kings: Sonata for Piano
Boonpracha: Scherzo (Vivace -Andante -Vivace)
Teeka Yooko Hotu Maharaja: Allegro ma non troppo
In Glory to Our Great Kings, a sonata for solo piano, the composer uses four melodies composed by past monarchs of the Chakri Dynasty as musical themes. These melodies are Bulan Loy Luen ('Floating Moon') by his Majesty King Rama II; Kluen Kratop Fang ('Breaking Waves'), Ratree Pradap Dao ('Starry Night') and Khamen La-or Ong by His Majesty King Rama VII. In addition, six popular songs by His Majesty the King are also used to intertwine with the first four melodies, employing Western harmony with Thai overtones.
The first movement, called Penpiroon in Thai, is of noble and graceful character. It uses Bulan Loy Luen and Saifon ('Falling Rain') as its two subjects. The first subject ends in the Dorian mode, which is unusual to the ear and reappears as the very end of the movement. The exposition begins with Bulan Loy Luen followed by a bridge passage imitating the sound of the falling rain, which introduces the Saifon melody. The development section sees the first subject in various transformations and, at times, hinting at the tune of Maha Chulalongkorn, an important theme of the last movement. This section ends with Saifon shrouded in dissonance. In the recapitulation, both subjects return in G major, a richly harmonized Saifon is followed by the return of Bulan Loy Luen, leading to a festive climax of the movement.
The second movement opens brightly with a brilliant combination of two melodies, Klai Roong ('Near Dawn') and Kluen Kratop Fang. In the middle section, the complete melody of Kham Laew ('Lullaby') is heard, followed by a da capo to complete the ternary form. The movement ends with a fast but sweet coda. It has been said that Kham Laew is one of the most beautiful lullabies ever written and thus it is the only melody that is heard complete and unaltered in the sonata.
The introduction to the third movement ushers in the image of the moon and stars reflected in the still water. The melody of Saengduan ('Magic Beams') enters slowly as the rising moon, accompanied by the fluid melody of Ratree Pradap Dao shimmering in the upper register. The mood of stillness and ecstasy of the night is perfectly evoked, portrayed by the quiet profound beauty of this movement.
The last movement is a rondo which opens with the melody of Khamen Laor Ong, followed by Maha Chulalongkorn, and then returns to the first section in a higher key of A major. The next section introduces the melody Yoong Thong ('Golden Peacock') before the return of the first section in the original key of F major. The movement is rounded off with a coda of Yoong Thong and Maha Chulalongkorn playing against one another, leading to a triumphant and joyful conclusion.
The overall mood of the movement is lively, using unusual pianistic techniques that sometimes imitate the sounds of the Thai gamelan. Maha Chulalongkorn is the only composition by His Majesty the King in the pentatonic scale. It was transcribed for the pentatonic scale by Khun Kru Devaprasit / Patayakosol, to be played by the Thai Pipat Orchestra at the request of His Majesty the King in 1954, the year of the Nat Yontararak's birth.
The sonata was given its first performance in the Golden Jubilee Concert series of the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra in October 1994.
The Force Behind 'Glory to Our Great Kings'
Glory to Our Great Kings was composed at the suggestion of Khunying Malee Snidvongse na Ayuddhya, who wished to see a compilation of melodies composed by the monarchs of the Chakri Dynasty. The idea was then conceived of using all the royal themes as various elements in a single composition as tribute to the royal musical talents of our great kings. The composition is appropriate, especially on the occassion of His Majesty the King's Golden Jubilee Celebration of his Ascension to the Throne.
After some research, the composer found that besides His Majesty, two other monarchs, His Majesty King Rama II and His Majesty King Rama VII had been composers. Harnessing these various themes according to the original concept proved a formidable challenge but the composer managed to realize the piece in just seven months, from January to July 1994.
Modern Thai ways of life have their roots in the ancient culture and values of old Siam. Yet in this age of booming economy and industrialisation, we Thai still return to our gentle, compassionate and innate strength. Likewise, the character of the music conveys both the gentleness and the strength of the Thais. This philosophy reflects further the fact that finer qualities can still be appreciated in modern living if one takes time to seek them. The uncomplicated nature of the music and the Thai quality apparent in it show that in this age of globalisation, one can still be proud of the great heritage of our culture.
Six Arrangements of H.M. King Bhumibol's songs
His Majesty King Bhumibol has composed more than forty songs, all of them are beautiful music. There are six songs already used as motives for Glory to Our Great Kings. In these six arrangements are another six songs each gives a different romantic atmosphere, Somewhere Somehow, Still on My Mind and Love Light in My Heart. Blue Day is the only song in a minor key, which gives a more dramatic and more melancholy feelings, while Never Mind the H.M. (Hungry Men's) Blues and Oh I Say have more rhythmic pulse, conveying a more light hearted feeling.
These songs are much loved by the Thai people as much as we love our King who unites all Thai together as a whole nation.
English translation by Kampanat Atichatpong
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