About this Recording
8.225834 - FIRST CONTEMPORARY CHINESE COMPOSERS FESTIVAL 1986 (THE) (Rippon, Banowetz, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Schermerhorn, Jordan Tang)
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The First Contemporary Chinese Composers Festival 1986


The First Contemporary Chinese Composers Festival was held in Hong Kong in 1986. The occasion brought together composers from the mainland China, Hong Kong and abroad for the first time for discussion of the present and future of Chinese music and for concerts of recent compositions. The present recording includes some of the compositions played in concerts during the Festival.

Symphony No. 3 for Double Orchestra – Part III
Chan Wing Wah

Chan Wing Wah was born in 1954 and trained as a teacher before entering the Chinese University of Hong Kong as a music student. He later completed a Master’s degree and a Doctorate in Music at the University of Toronto. His compositions include 8 symphonies and many other works. His Autumn, for flute, oboe, guitar and viola, won first prize in the 1981 International Double Reed Society Composition Contest and was given its first performance in the USA. Chan’s Second Symphony was given its first performance by the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra and was presented before the International Rostrum of Composers in Paris in 1983, and in 1985 The Fires of London gave the first performance of his work Blossom in the Hong Kong Arts Festival.

Chan’s Third Symphony is in three parts, the first a sonata-form movement, the second a rondo. The third movement recalls earlier material. In its slow beginning it makes use of the traditional Chinese division of instruments by material—wood, bamboo, skin, metal, gourd, stone, earth and silk, using these groups of instruments initially in unison to create heavenly harmony. A faster section follows leading to a central section in a pastoral mood. The recapitulation makes of material from the first two movements, with a coda for brass using the ancient Chinese four-note scale.

Intermezzo for Orchestra and Three Tone Colours
Tan Dun

Tan Dun was born in Hunan in 1957 and had experience of local theatre and folk-music when he worked on the land in 1974. Two years later he joined the Hunan Peking Opera. In 1983 he completed his studies at the Beijing Central Conservatory of Music, where he was a pupil of Li Yinghai and Zhao Xingdao, the latter supervising his postgraduate studies. He has won awards for his compositions nationally and internationally, with works for the Beijing Dance Academy, the Ching Ching Dance Company, and in 1983, for the Hong Kong Dance Company and Northern Ballet Theatre. His string quartet Feng Ya Song won second prize in the Carl Weber International Chamber Music Competition, and his symphony Encountering Sorrow won a first prize at Beijing Central Conservatory.

Intermezzo, completed in 1985, makes use of the bass clarinet, double bassoon and human voices as three different elements in interplay with the orchestra. Human voices are used in a manner derived from opera (kun-qu), as well as from the harmonics and glissandi of the horizontal plucked zither (the qin) and from South Chinese folk-songs. The bass clarinet and double bassoon make use of microtones, as on Chinese instruments and as in folk-songs.

Piano Concerto in G Minor – Third Movement, Allegro
Huang Anlun

Huang Anlun was born in 1949 and showed an early interest in music and in particular in composition. He studied at the Central Conservatory in Beijing between 1961 and 1968 and in 1976 was appointed Resident Composer with the Central Opera in Beijing. In 1980 Huang undertook further study at the University of Toronto, moving later to Yale. His compositions include the operas Flower Guardian and Yue Fei, the ballets The Little Match Girl and Dream of Dun Huang, and a number of orchestral works.

The Piano Concerto in G minor was completed in 1982 and dedicated to the American pianist Joseph Banowetz. It was first performed in Guangzhou in 1984. The last of the three movements offers music of great energy and impetus, relaxing in its lyrical second subject, but moving forward to a conclusion of suitable brilliance. Written in a style that may recall Prokofiev, the concerto nevertheless proclaims its Chinese origin.

Mong Dong
Qu Xiaosong

Qu Xiaosong was born in Guiyang, Guizhou Province, where he spent his childhood in a farming community. By 1972 he had managed to teach himself the violin well enough to play that instrument and the viola in the Guizhou Peking Opera Orchestra. In 1978 he entered the composition class of the Central Conservatory in Beijing and after graduation in 1983 joined the teaching staff there, while assuming responsibility as one of the editors of the journal People’s Music.

In 1982 Qu won first prize in the International A. Tcherepnin Competition, going on to win further awards in subsequent years. His compositions include a cello concerto and a percussion concerto, works for solo violin and for solo flute and orchestra and chamber music.

Mong Dong was written in 1984. The two syllables of the title designate nothing further than mysterious abstract sounds and the composer has endeavoured to distant the work from Western or Chinese cultural associations. Rather he has tried to explore a more fundamental and earthy relationship between humanity and nature in a search for the tranquillity of primitive man, drawing a comparison between his music and the spirit of rock paintings found among the ethnic minority tribes of Yunan.

Symphony No. 3 – Second and Third Movements
Jordan Tang

Jordan Tang was Music Director of the Jackson Symphony Orchestra in Tennessee from 1986 to 2013. He was born in Hong Kong, where he studied at the Chinese University before undertaking postgraduate work in the USA at Wittemberg University and Cleveland Institute. His doctorate was awarded by the University of Utah.

Tang’s Third Symphony, commissioned by the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, of which he had been Associate Conductor, was first performed by the orchestra under the composer’s direction in 1985. The work makes use of one twelve-note series throughout, although this is used with considerable freedom. The second movement, marked Andante sostenuto, expresses a feeling of desolation and has a central aleatoric section. The rapid third movement is in rondo form and bears a resemblance to the first movement, with the faster tempo-marking of Allegro.

Moon over the West River
Ye Xiaogang

Ye Xiaogang studied music first with his father Ye Chunzhi but from the age of six was trained in ballet. In 1977 he entered the composition class of the Central Conservatory in Beijing, where he became a pupil of Du Mingxin. In 1981 the first recital of his music was given in Beijing and the following year his duet for cello and piano, Chinese Poem, won first prize in the International A. Tcherepnin Competition in the USA. He won further distinction with a subsequent violin concerto and a concerto for guzheng.

Moon over the West River was first performed in 1984 by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra in the course of the Asian Composers’ Conference. The title of the work is taken from a qupai (melody) from ancient drum music, but is chosen for convenience rather than for any programmatic significance. Ye suggests that the music expresses the interaction of the inner self and the macrocosm outside, as well as a poetic vision of life. The work is tonal throughout, and the composer remains aware of the traditional philosophic concert of the void and otherworldliness, as expressed in Song Dynasty ink paintings.

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