REGISTER NOW AND GET
• 5 FREE tracks! • 101 tracks for $9.99
ClassicsOnline Home » XU: Memories of the Past at Jinling
Night Moor at Maple Bridge
at Maple Bridge is a tone poem based on a poem of
the same title. The famous poem by Zhang Ji, a poet
in the Tang Dynasty, is as follows:
cawing at frosty moonset,
are blinking on the fishing boats.
the maples on the river bank,
I have lost
sleep because of distress.
city of Suzhou,
It is Cold
Towards our boat, tolling its bell.
Plum Garden in Snow
Snow is falling
silently. The whole world has turned silvery white. In the bitterly cold winter
day, the plum trees in the Plum
Garden have already
bloomed quietly. In the beginning, in high register, the music mildly sways on
muted violins. In the dialogue between the carillon and the arpeggios of the
harp, the listener enters into a tranquil world of snow. Following this, the
cello plays a simple, heartfelt theme, a hymn to the spirit of the plum blossom,
which, as flawless as jade, blooms despite the cold snow. After a section of
grimmer music, the graceful theme is recapitulated, with the whole orchestra
adding its voice. The music drives forward gradually to an exciting climax, after
which there is a return to the atmosphere of the beginning. The snowflakes are still
falling. In the silvery world, the plum blossom in the Plum Garden
silently emits its fragrance. Composed in January 1979, the fantasy overture Plum Garden
in Snow was one of the prize winners at the All-China Symphonic Composition
Appraisal in 1981.
Memories of the Past at Jinling
the Past at Jinling is a tone poem commissioned by
the well-known Japanese conductor and composer Sotoyama
or the thousand-musician concert of Japanese-Chinese friendship in Nagoya in
January 1995, Nanjing was in ancient times known as
Jingling, a city that, from 229 A.D., was the successive capital of six
dynasties, including the Eastern Wu and Eastern Jin, and the Southern Dynasties
Song, Qi, Liang and Chen. After
the Sui Dynasty had exterminated the Chen, the metropolis
of magnificent palaces and prosperous commercial districts was completely
destroyed. From the Tang Dynasty (618-907) onwards, many famous poets, inspired
by the historical vicissitudes of the city, wrote volumes of poems, mostly
under the title of Memories of the Past at Jinling.
The tone poem is based on the implied meaning of three of such poems, Memories
of the Past at Jinling to the tune of Fragrance of
Laurel Branch by Wang Anshi (1021-1086), a great
politician of the Song Dynasty, and Memories of the Past at Jinling
to the tune of The River All Red and Mounting the Gate Tower of the City Wall of
Jingling to the tune of Charm of a Maiden Singer, both by Sadura
(about 1300-?), a famous poet of the Yuan Dynasty, and based on the composer’s own
experience of his thirty-year residence in Nanjing.
The music begins with a strong, deep sustained note that gradually grows in
intensity. Soon a strong resounding chord is heard from the whole orchestra.
This reflects the lines:
for the dominant terrain of the six dynasties,
I can only
see the wall-like green mountains.
composer’s memories of the past at Jingling start from the wall-like green
mountain by the Yangtze River. After this the
music leads into memories of the past, the mysterious, luxurious mansions and
the magnificent grand palaces of the six dynasties, the gentle melody on the
plucked pipa, the Chinese lute, and the jubilant song
and dance in the royal palace. Then the music depicts the misery and ferocity
of the historic wars between the north and the south, as described in the
flags hid the sun;
masts touched the clouds;
bones of the dead look like white snow. The music lays stress on the historical
army was attacking the palace,
emperor sported happily with his favourite concubine,
tragedy has recurred endlessly.
music calms down, the pipa, lonely and miserable,
joins in once again:
back the past,
I am in
the extinct dynasties,
I can only
see relics of history.
mist palls over the lading weeds,
crows fly in tumult in the setting sun.
In the last
passage of the piece, a long, beautiful and tender melody is played by the woodwind
and strings. The music dismisses the feeling that prevailed al the end of the poems.
Based on the first half of Wang Anshi’s poem:
I climb the
mountain by the river and strain my sight.
It is late
autumn in the ancient capital,
of trees start to turn yellow and fall.
river looks as clear and smooth as silk
clusters of green peaks,
the composer’s personal experience, the music fully conveys the composer’s boundless
love and nostalgia for the magnificence of Jinling, the
A Tone Picture of Border Village
March 1986, A Tone Picture of Border Village, depicts the magnificent border
area of South-West China
and the grand spectacle of song and dance at the festivity of the ethnic
minorities, and expresses the composer’s appreciation and his deep affection for
Erquan Spring Reflecting the Moon
Spring Reflecting the Moon was originally the work of Hua
Yanjun, a blind musician, and is one of the best
traditional pieces in the literature of the erhu, the
Chinese two-string fiddle. In this piece the blind musician reveals his life
full of frustrations and bitterness. The music is sad and profoundly touching. Although the piece has often been arranged for orchestra for
performance and recording, previous versions are all for small ensembles.
The present arrangement by Xu Zhenmin
is elaborate for full orchestra. Even more exquisitely profound in its
intensity, the music reveals the fuller implications of the original in an even
more profound and vivid manner.
Born in Yantai, in Shandong,
in 1934, Xu Zhenmin entered
the Composition Department of the China Central Conservatory in 1952 and graduated
there in 1957. He is now a professor of composition at the Conservatory.
Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra
Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra is one of the most famous performing ensembles
It was established in 1952 as the East China Music Troupe. The first Director
was He Luting, a well-known composer, followed by
Huang Yijun and Situ Han. The orchestra is now
conducted by Cao Peng. In
the past forty years, the orchestra has given over three thousand concerts,
including special concerts for individual composers and musicians, and
collaborated with singers and soloists from all over the world. Apart from
giving concerts, the orchestra often makes recordings for radio stations,
television stations and film studios, as well as for recordings for world-wide
Cao Peng is one of the most distinguished conductors in China. He was
born in Jiangyin,
in 1925. In 1946, he entered the Arts Department of Shandong University. In
1950 he was principal conductor of both the Shanghai Film Studio Orchestra and
the Beijing Film Studio Orchestra. In 1955, he went to the Russia to study
at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory under the celebrated conductor Leo
Ginsberg. Cao Peng was appointed
resident conductor of the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra after his return in 1961.
He is now artistic director and principal conductor of the Shanghai
Philharmonic Orchestra, artistic director of the Marco Polo Symphony Orchestra,
music advisor and resident conductor of the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, and
music director and principal conductor of the Shanghai Chamber Orchestra.
Last Albums Viewed
XU: Memories of the Past at Jinling