|About this Recording
8.225832 - DU, Mingxin: Violin Concerto No. 1 / Piano Concerto No. 1 (Takako Nishizaki, Jandó, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Hungarian State Symphony)
Violin Concerto: Larghetto – Andante – Allegro • Largo • Allegro, Vivo
Du Mingxin’s Violin Concerto is unusual in the context of contemporary Chinese music in that it has no declared programme, follows no particular narrative and claims to evoke no particular landscape or situation. It was completed in 1982, written for the distinguished Japanese violinist Takako Nishizaki, whose performance of the popular programmatic Butterfly Lovers’ Concerto has won enormous success. Du Mingxin’s Concerto, a work that imposes great technical demands on the performer, makes particular use of Takako Nishizaki’s lyrical gifts as a player, while exploiting to the full her command of violin technique.
The Violin Concerto is in three movements, and opens with an improvisatory introduction by the soloist, leading to an Allegro in which the violinist announces the first theme, in the manner of a folk-song, above an energetic orchestral accompaniment. The second subject is also entrusted to the soloist, and forms the traditional relaxation of tension in its lyrical and characteristically Chinese form. The contrast of the two subjects is further developed, the first subject growing in intensity, and the second preeminently lyrical in mood. There is a demanding and extended cadenza, which leads in turn to the recapitulation of the principal themes.
The slow movement, after the briefest of orchestral introductions, allows the main theme once more to the soloist. The second section offers thematic material of a more robust and dramatic kind, to be followed by a rhapsodic view of the principal theme, introduced by the mysterious notes of the harp.
Traditional form again dominates the final movement, which is a rondo, the principal theme relying on leaps of a fourth, followed by rapid scale passages. In contrast, the first subsidiary section makes use of descending fourths in a cantabile melody, with the orchestra referring once again to the opening of the work in a concluding section.
Piano Concerto No. 1 “Spirit of Spring”: Allegro appassionato • Adagio espressivo • Presto giocoso
Du Mingxin’s Piano Concerto No. 1 “Spirit of Spring” was written in 1988 and received its first performance at the concert given in Hong Kong to celebrate the composer’s sixtieth birthday. The soloist on that occasion, as on the present recording, was the Hungarian pianist Jenő Jandó.
The first movement of the concerto has an energetic first subject, of a vigour that recall the work of Prokofiev. This is in contrast to a romantic second theme that hints rather at Rachmaninov in its texture and feeling, a vein explored by a number of Chinese composers, without Rachmaninov’s sometimes piquant chromaticism. There is a central development and a cadenza grows gradually in intensity, leading to a recapitulation in which the character of the whole movement is re-asserted and its romantic element dwelt on. This is followed by a rapid concluding passage.
The second movement is in the manner of a nocturne—dream-like, tranquil and quiet, dominated by a repeated rising figure. Here, as in the Violin Concerto, more overt use is made of Chinese melodic material, suggesting nights in the surviving gardens of Beijing.
The final movement, marked Presto giocoso, has a principal theme of cheerful vigour, again in the world of Prokofiev and his immediate successors, recalled in the piano figuration and the impetuous motor energy that propels the movement forward. This is contrasted with a brief episode of overt Chinese provenance. A concluding repetition of the principal theme brings the work to an exciting end.
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