The Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto was written in 1958 by He Zhanhao and Chen Gang while they
were students at the Shanghai Conservatory and was first performed in May the following year.
Musically the concerto is a synthesis of Eastern and Western traditions, although the melodies and
overall style are adapted from traditional Chinese Opera. The solo violin is used with a technique that
recalls the playing technique of Erhu, the Chinese two-string fiddle. It is a one-movement programmatic
concerto, with three sections that correspond to the three phases of the story—Falling in Love, Refusing
to Marry and Metamorphosis.
The narrative, derived from Chinese folklore, tells the story of the lovers Liang Shanbo and Zhu
Yingtai. The two had been studying together, with Zhu Yingtai disguised as a boy, her identity unknown
to her friend Liang Shanbo. Their period of study together and friendship is a happy one, which comes
to an end when Zhu Yingtai is compelled to return home, and the couple part at a pavilion, eighteen
miles from the city. This forms the exposition of a tripartite sonata-form movement.
In the central section, the formal development, Zhu Yingtai now defies her father, who has arranged a
marriage for her. Liang Shanbo decides to visit Zhu Yingtai and only now finds out that she is a girl and
about to be married. There is a tender duet between violin and cello, now Liang Shanbo realises the
nature of his affection for his former companion. Liang Shanbo dies, the victim of despair, and Zhu
Yingtai, on the way to her wedding, stops at her lover’s tomb and leaps into it. The tomb bursts open
and at the sound of the gong the music reaches a climax.
In the final section of the concerto, the recapitulation, the love theme reappears and Liang Shanbo and
Zhu Yingtai emerge from the tomb as a pair of butterflies, flying together, never more to be parted.
THE BUTTERFLY LOVERS VIOLIN CONCERTO
THE YELLOW RIVER PIANO CONCERTO
Gang Chen / Zhanhao He: The Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto
Takako Nishizaki, violin
Shanghai Conservatory Symphony Orchestra
Fan Chengwu, conductor
Li Hong Sheng / Fei-sheng Xu / Shucheng Shi / Wanghua Chu / Zhuang Liu / Chengzong Yin: The Yellow River Piano Concerto
Yin Chengzong, piano
Czecho-Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra
Adrian Leaper, conductor
The box set contains a 24K Gold CD and the DVD filmed in West Lake, Hangzhou.
Information in both English and Chinese inside the booklet.
Limited Copies Autographed By Takako Nishizaki
DVD technical information:
Picture format: NTSC 4:3
Sound format: Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0
Region code: 0 (worldwide)
Menu languages: English, Chinese
Running time: 51 mins
No. of DVDs: 1 DVD + 1 CD