About this Recording
8.225816 - 12 HEROINES OF IMPERIAL CHINA (Hong Kong Philharmonic, Wing-Sie Yip)
English  Chinese 

Twelve Heroines of Imperial China


The two kinds of Chinese music most widely heard are folk songs and songs made popular by television. The present release includes a number of melodies taken from Hong Kong television series, as well as Chinese folk songs and melodies drawn from Chinese operas from various regions. Famous examples include the folk songs Lady Meng Jiang, Wang Zhaojun (The Sorrow of Wang Zhaojun) and Daydreaming at the Dressing Table (from Princess Chang Ping). These and other popular melodies in this recording have been arranged for Western orchestra, a medium that allows the original vocal nature of the material to be aptly preserved.

Chinese music is traditionally programmatic, base on a character or a story which is similar to the western programme music, whether in narrative or evocative description. Nevertheless it is not always easy to relate the titles given to the pieces and the music itself. Some titles, indeed, reflect the extra-musical meaning of the music, while others have relatively little of the referential. Operatic and folk songs may retain their titles, a record of their origin, as in the case of Lady Meng Jiang, Wang Zhaojun and Daydreaming at the Dressing Table, but there may remain little relation between the music and the original verbal content.

Chinese history and legends offer many examples of female heroism. Some of these heroines are historical and some purely fictional. In the former category come Yang Guifei, a royal concubine of the Tang Dynasty, Wu Zetian, an Empress of the Tang Dynasty, Ci Xi and Qiu Jin; and in the latter Mu Guiying, Diao Chan, Xi Shi, Huo Xiaoyu and Princess Chang Ping. Lady Meng Jiang and Zhu Yingtai have their existence in legends.

In the present recording the most famous historical melody is Lady Meng Jiang, connected with the heroine of the Qin Dynasty who is believed to have destroyed part of the Great Wall of China by her weeping for her lost husband, conscripted by the Emperor to work on its construction. Wandering in search of him, she came to the place in the Great Wall where he lay buried, and as she wept the Wall broke open to reveal her husband’s bones. On the site a temple was built, which is still standing.

Zhu Yingtai is a heroine in the legends of the southern district of the Yangtze River. She dressed as a man in order to study, but found herself in love with a fellow student Liang Shanbo. Family circumstances led to the separation of the lovers, but both were united in death, when they were transformed into butterflies.

Wang Zhaojun was a princess sacrificed to the interests of politics by being given in marriage to a Hun chieftain. Her sorrow at leaving her own country and crossing the frontier to the wild grasslands has been recorded in opera, as well as in the literature of the pipa (Chinese lute) and in a recent popular violin concerto.

Most of the melodies here recorded, however, are taken from popular television dramas, imaginatively orchestrated to provide another level of entertainment.

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