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8.225843 - Pipa Recital: Lam, Fung (King Chu Doffs His Armour)
Popular Pipa Music
Happy Spring Evening
Happy Spring Evening is based on the traditional pipa (Chinese lute) piece Flutes and Drums at Dusk. It is in six sections. The earliest manuscript of the work is dated 1875 and does not include any titles. The work also appeared listed among Thirteen Great Works for Pipa from the South and the North collected at the end of the Qing Dynasty by the virtuoso pipa player Li Fengyuan. In that collection the piece bears the title The Pipa of Xun Yang. The modern version falls into ten sections: (1) Flutes and Drums at Dusk; (2) Pollen Blown by the Wind; (3) Fading Moon at Mount Guan; (4) Evening Sun near the Mountain; (5) Sound of Maple and Reed in Autumn; (6) Deep Valley; (7) Sound of Flutes among Red Trees; (8) Evening View by the River; (9) Singing the Night among Fishing Boats; (10) A Solitary Boat at Dusk. The general mood of the work is that of evening by the river. An arrangement of the music for Chinese folk orchestra was made in the early 1930s, when the new title Happy Spring Evening was acquired.
Spring Snow was originally known as Spring or Ancient Music on the Subject of Spring. The earliest copied version bears the date 1860. The present name was given the music in 1927 by the pipa player Shen Hao. The modern version has several sections, although the older version has ten, and shows the happiness of the first season of the year.
Water Lotus is a traditional piece of music from Guangdong, enjoying great popularity among Hakka people, the supposed descendants of immigrants from Central China, who took refuge in the South at the end of the Song Dynasty. The music belongs to a group of melodies known as Ancient Melodies from Central China, and is a lyrical piece, usually played on the guzheng (zither). Nevertheless it provides an effective addition to the repertory of the pipa.
Prelude to Song and Dance
The great folk music reformer Liu Tianhua was present at a performance given in China by a visiting Italian opera company in 1925, and his Prelude to Song and Dance resulted from this experience. The work has five sections and a coda. It begins with a slow section, with the speed gradually increasing. The first three sections contain different dance rhythms of varying speed, while the fourth, in slower tempo, has a flowing melody. The fifth section repeats the first, while the coda is played entirely on harmonics.
Autumn Moon in the Han Palace
Autumn Moon in the Han Palace, a work originally written for pipa, has been arranged for the erhu (two-string Chinese fiddle) and guzheng. It describes the sadness of the maidservants who spend all their lives at the Palace, in music of great expressiveness.
Lily Flowering is a dance in triple time, the kind of music that gained popularity in China in the 1950s. The repetitive structure of the piece is simple in outline.
Beyond the Frontier
Beyond the Frontier is drawn from Li Fangyuan’s anthology of thirteen works for the pipa. Its five sections bear the titles: Meditating in the Palace in Spring, The Sorrow of Wang Zhaojun, Tears of the Royal Concubine, Autumn Sorrow at the Dressing-table, and Thinking about Home. The music relates the story of the heroine Wang Zhaojun, who, in order to save China from Mongolian invasion, agreed to marry the enemy leader. The music is suited to the nature of the story in its melancholy, making use of special technical effects on the pipa.
Lanterns and the Moon
Lanterns and the Moon is an example of old pipa music, describing a festival at night, with lanterns lit in celebration of the autumn moon, an annual event of great popularity that made an early impression on foreign visitors to China. The music is suitably spirited.
Hua Yanjun (1893–1950) was born in Wu Xi. In Wang Zhaojun he depicts the famous heroine of the Han Dynasty, who, in order to save the country from attack by the Mongolians, was prepared to marry the Mongolian Khan. The music is in three sections, the first describing Wang Zhaojun, the second her departure and the third the conclusion of the episode.
Walking along a Sichuan Path
The famous Tang poet Li Taipo wrote about the roads of Sichuan, describing their roughness, comparing treading such roads to the process of reaching the heavens on foot, an impossible achievement. Walking along a Sichuan Path describes the fine scenery of the province rather than the hardships of Li Taopo’s verse.
King Chu Doffs His Armour
King Chu Doffs His Armour makes use of the same story as the well-known work Ambush on All Sides, music that describes the war between King Chu and Liu Bang. The work is in fourteen sections: Drums; Pitching Camp; Counting the Soldiers; Organising the Army; Planning; Setting Out; Battle; Fighting at Gaixia; Chu Song; Farewell; Sounds of War; Sudden Attack; Pursuit of the Enemy and Returning Home. The music treats the episodes of the campaign more introspectively than Ambush on All Sides.
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