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ClassicsOnline Home » Pipa Recital: Tang, Xiaofeng - LIU, Tian-hua / WU, Houyuan / CHEN, Gang / LIU, Dehai / GU, Guanren
Music for Pipa
Emptiness (Xu Lai)
Composed by Liu Tianhua in 1929, Emptiness has the alternative titles of On a Night Like This and Song of the Long Night. In the original Chinese title, Xu-Lai, ‘lai’ refers to an ancient type of flute. The meaning of the two characters combined is ‘sound of the flute coming from hollowness’, or the emptiness of the night when the world is asleep. This, together with the two alternative titles, may give us a glimpse of the musical concept. At the time of writing this piece, Liu Tianhua had just had his hope of setting up a music conservatory frustrated, so, on a sleepless night, he spent a long time contemplating before pouring his thoughts and feelings into the score.
Wild Geese Alighting on a Sandbank
(arranged Yang Dajun)
Wild Geese Alighting on a Sandbank is one of the most widely known works in Chinese music from the last three hundred years. Lyrical and flowing, with hints of distant bird calls, the music depicts a flock of wild geese hovering in the sky before they make their descent on the sandbank.
Lamentation – On Reading Bai Juyi’s
Song of the Lute
Pipa Xing, or Song of the Pipa, is a very famous poem written by Bai Juyi (772–846) of the Tang Dynasty, and has often been set to pipa music. The work begins with a free, parlando passage which resembles the prelude to a major tune in the music of the Tang Dynasty. It is alternately intense and free with varying dynamics, as if the pipa player is expressing the grief in her heart. This is followed by a lyrical middle section at moderately slow tempo. The expressive melody is then followed by a cadenza with notes created with plucking forwards and backwards at broad intervals, resembling the weeping of the female pipa player. The development section is full of contrasts in range and dynamic. It involves various fingering techniques which are unique to the pipa. The rapid finale with passages of semiquavers brings the piece to a climax.
The Sun Shines on Taxkorgan
(arranged Chen Yin)
The Sun Shines on Taxkorgan is based on an arrangement for violin of a song entitled The Beautiful Taxkorgan, reworked by Chen Yin for pipa. The rhythm depicts the bold, macho and carefree characteristics of the people of Tajikistan in two sections, Sing with Joy and Dance with Passion.
The Six Steeds of Zhaoling
Liu Dehai is a leading pipa virtuoso in China, renowned at home and abroad. The Six Steeds of Zhaoling is a work that took him ten years to complete, refreshing in its idiom, rich in textures and unique in concept. It depicts an action-packed scene of battle with horses galloping on the battlefield. It deserves to be regarded as a classic in pipa repertoire.
Pipa Concerto ‘Hua Mulan’
The concerto Hua Mulan was written by Gu Guanren in 1979, using the Yuefu narrative poem of the Northern Dynasty (386–581), Song of Mulan, as the background story. The music draws inspiration from the song written by Bai Zongwei during the 1911 Revolution in China. It tells the story of Mulan, who was conscripted on her father’s behalf disguised as a man. The image of a brave young woman who fights for her beloved country and home and spurns opportunities of fame and fortune is vividly portrayed. The music is in three sections: 1. Mulan loves her homeland 2. Valiant in battle against the enemies and 3. Returning home in victory.
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