About this Recording
8.225838 - CHINESE EVERGREENS (Yomiuri Nippon Symphony, Kenneth Jean)
English  Chinese 

Chinese Evergreens

 

The period between the 1930s and 50s saw the flourishing of several new composers and lyricists in China. Their music, reflecting the art and traditional folk songs of China, was to win wide audiences all over China and even overseas. Chinese Evergreens is a compilation of popular songs selected from this period. The songs, originally in Mandarin, have been arranged into purely orchestral pieces. They retain the spirit, style and evocativeness of the original works, while giving them a universal appeal and relevance to the present time.

Plum Blossoms in the Snow
Huang Zi

The catchy, easy to remember melodies of Huang Zi made Plum Blossoms in the Snow ideal school-song material, and it is still popular in schools today. The song describes the beauty of plum blossoms in the snowy wastes of the countryside and the pleasure it gives to see them as a donkey trots and a bell tinkles.

Evening Bells from Namping
Wong Fuling

Chimes ring out like bells to introduce a haunting main theme played by the oboe. This song was very popular for its evocation of the calm and beauty of the Chinese countryside.

Flowers Are Not Flowers
Huang Zi

Lamenting the transient nature of life, the lyricist wrote in 1933:

Flowers are not flowers, mist not mist
They come at night only to disappear with the morning light
Like dreams, they appear from time to time
Only to disappear with the morning mist, and who’s to know when they will return

An age-old human regret is the ceaseless change life brings, along with the disappearance of things and people once dear. The mood of this song is a soft, nostalgic sigh reflecting man’s universal regret at time’s merciless onslaught.

A Touch on the Crimson Lips
Huang Zi

This song takes its theme from a piece of descriptive prose entitled Climbing a Chamber whose words admonish

Spring time surpasses mere enjoyment
Preserve the previous season with wine
Though your heart might be weary
Try to climb the chamber and progress
Though the hills are many, and the streams covered in mist
Never let Spring leave your heart

Picking Lotus
Liu Xuean

A song reflecting the more romantic side of peaceful village life.

Night breezes blow as the sun’s rays retreat
Gathering flowers, the peasants sing the Picking Lotus song together
The lotus flowers in their hands bring them happiness

Over the Jialing River
He Luting

This is a mourning song set during the Second World War and describes a man’s sorrow and dreams of revenge as he remembers how the Japanese razed his village, killing his family and cattle.

Alone I follow the shore of the Jialing River
The river and moon remain unchanged
Unlike my heart, now devoid of dreams and warmth
I cannot forget the cries the river echoed
And I shall return to wield the victory fun and dagger
In the soil of my homeland

The River All Red
Traditional

An epic song of great majesty, the original lyrics of this song were written by Yue Fei, a famous hero of the Sung Dynasty. The song relates how Yue Fei, as General of the Sung Emperor’s army, led a campaign against the Emperor’s enemies, the Kam tribes from the North. The Sung Army was victorious in the initial stages of the campaign, but was ultimately defeated because of Yue Fei’s betrayal by the Sung Emperor’s own Chancellor. The heroic spirit of Yue Fei and his army is honoured and reflected in the vigorous energy of this song.

I Live on the Shore of Yangtze River
Qing Zhu

This is a beautiful love song that tells the story of a lady living on the shore of the Yangtze River. She went out each day in the hope of meeting her lover who lived down the river, but her wait was long, and all she could do was ask the ceaselessly flowing waters when the longed-for encounter would be granted.

The Quest
Liu Xuean

The Quest evokes the mood of youth’s fervent optimism.

You (my hopes) are like the distant clouds gliding through the sky
You, like stars, shimmer through the night
My heart is filled with energy and hope
No longer can I wait
I am driven on to follow the quest for eternal love
Driven to the quest for eternal light

Lipid Eyes of a Fair Lady
He Luting

This was one of the most popular songs of the 50s. Its sweetly melancholic tune and lyrics describe a man’s longing for his lover. She has deserted him and his daughter, never to return. The father and daughter comfort each other through their despair.

Thoughts in Spring
Huang Zi

This is a song of a wanderer who finds himself in an unfamiliar place. The music evokes the mood of the original lyrics:

The night rain drips on the staircase
It’s hard to sleep in a cold bed
So I sit alone in the house
Watching the silhouettes of strange willows

Parental Love
Huang Zi

This was a popular song expressing the thoughts and feelings of an orphan child.

Everybody has a father, why don’t I?
Everybody has a mother, why don’t I?
I’m like a poor lamb that’s been left behind
Like a young bird that must keep flying
Having no nest to stop
Having no parents in a terrible misfortune, an endless struggle
But cry no more, I have to be strong
Help others, contribute something to my society
This way, I might at least hope to win the love of those I meet


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