About this Recording
8.225850 - Piano Recital: Seow, Yitkin - DING, Shande / CHEN, Chien Hua / CHEN, Peixun / ZHU, Jianer (Seow Yitkin Plays Popular Chinese Piano Pieces)
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Seow Yitkin plays Popular Chinese Piano Pieces


The Peacock
Yeung Chun Wai

Yeung Chun Wai died at the early age of 26. His piano piece The Peacock is in the simply evocative form of a folksong, with a contrasted middle section and a final instrumental cadenza, before the reappearance of the second melody.

Children Suite: Go to the Countryside • Catching Butterflies • Skipping • Hide and Seek • Festival Dance
Ding Shande

Ding Shande was a composer and pianist, studied in Paris and became Professor at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music in 1936.

Go to the Countryside sets the mood of simplicity that characterizes the set of five short pieces. A simple pentatonic opening introduces a livelier mood, all in untypical compound time, before the return of the first section.

Catching Butterflies is an energetic and rhythmical piece, with its constantly repeated chords and changing accents.

In Skipping, the skipper encounters initial difficulties, with the intrusion of an extra beat here and there, before the music settles into a lively duple rhythm. There is brief hop into another key before the first regular melody reappears.

In Hide and Seek, after vivacious pentatonic opening based on A, shifts a tone higher for a contrasted softer section. The original melody re-enters leading to an increasingly rapid conclusion.

Festival Dance is the final piece in the Suite. It preserves the simple texture. Shifting accents are used in a movement of increasing excitement.

Toccata (Good Tidings)
Ding Shande

Ding Shande’s Toccata is based on an ostinato pattern of fifths, against which sharply accented chords are contrasted, followed by a figure of rapid decoration introducing a series of accented fifths. The key shifts up a semitone, reverts to its original key of A flat, with an inversion of parts, after which a glissando up the keyboard brings in a more typically melodic element, which is then repeated a minor third lower. A third figure is introduced, repeated a semitone lower, and replaced by the rapid decoration that formed part of the opening. The original toccata pattern now reappears, set against melodic fragments before the final climax.

Xinjiang Dance No. 1
Ding Shande

Xinjiang, the region of Eastern Turkestan, on the border of the Chinese Empire, has been the source of a number of characteristic dances. An angular introduction here introduces the dance tune, with its characteristic rhythmic form and final rising octave. The increased impetus of the first section leads to a relaxation of tension before the return of the original dance melody, finally accompanied by more extended piano figuration with the usual dramatic climax.

Rice Threshing Dance
Sun Yiqiang

Sun Yiqiang’s Rice Threshing Dance sets a typically pentatonic dance melody against an ostinato accompaniment. A repeated note re-introduces the dance a fourth higher, leading in turn to a singing melody first played by the left hand, then embellished by the right. It is not long, however, before the first tune returns, bringing the piece to a ferocious conclusion.

Adagio für Klavier
Chen Chien Hua

Chen Chien Hua, who was born in Canton in 1935, studied in Vienna and Stuttgart. His Adagio for Piano opens with mysterious open chords, followed by delicate arpeggiated figures, before the first characteristic melody is introduced. This tune is then embellished with pianistic figuration followed by a more expressive and simple melody. A descending arpeggio and heavy chords bring back the first tune in a grandiose form, followed by a version of calm simplicity before the final contrasted dynamic extremes.

To Spring
Chen Puixun

Chan Puixun was a Professor of the Beijing Conservatory. He made use of typical elements of Cantonese music. To Spring starts with the usual brief introduction before a livelier pentatonic melody is brought in, with its typical answering section in the bass. A short melody, in a contrasted key and mood, repeated a minor third lower, brings a return of the introduction and the original animated dance, culminating in a rapid coda.

The Pedlar
Chen Puixun

The Pedlar opens with a simple pentatonic folk melody in the right hand, repeated in the lower part and followed by a brief concluding section using similar material. The usual quieter section with its changed key intervenes briefly, and is succeeded by the return of the livelier first melody.

Zhu Jianer

Zhu Jianer’s Prelude opens with something of the manner of Debussy, a pentatonic melody singing above delicate arpeggios. The melody is shifted a fourth higher and treated more expansively, leading to a second melody, subjected to the same process. The reappearance of the first melody is against a delicate patter of fourths, leading to a final evanescent chord.

Xinjiang Dance
Guo Zhihong

This second example of a piece deriving inspiration from Turkestan is characterised by the sharp accented rhythms, the melody reappearing against lightly syncopated chords above and below, then to a heavier accompaniment. The contrasted second section is a major third lower and brings in a fiercely rhythmical episode, leading to the return of the first melody, which later varied by the use of triplet rhythms. The final version of the dance is fast, brilliant and loud.

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