About this Recording
8.225829 - CHEN, Gang / HE, Zhanhao: The Butterfly Lovers Piano Concerto (Feiping Hsu, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Schermerhorn)
English  Chinese 

The Butterfly Lovers Piano
Concerto Chen Gang and He Zhanhao
(arranged by Chen Gang from The Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto)

The Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto was written in 1958 by Chen Gang and He Zhanhao 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. In 1985, Chen Gang arranged the Concerto for piano and orchestra. It was given its first performance in the same year by the renowned Chinese pianist Hsu Feiping, the soloist on the present recording.

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 folk-lore, 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 the solo piano and cello, now that 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 again to be parted.

Nine Popular Songs of the 30’s & 40’s
Chen Gexin

Born in 1914 in Shanghai, China, Chen Gexin was a Chinese popular music songwriter. This recording features nine of his popular songs composed in the 1930s and 40s. One of his most popular hits was Rose, Rose, I Love You. It was translated in English and sung by American singer Frankie Laine in 1951.


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