About this Recording
82062 - PHOON: Symphonic Works

The music is inspired by observation of the life cycle of the salmon - a most touching life story - from a young fish struggling for survival in brooks, then as he grows, swimming towards the sea, experiencing violent storms and mighty waves, until finally he feels duty-bound to return home up-stream, sacrificing his own life for the sake of procreation.

The music is treated in a cheerful and concise manner. Narrating the life process of the salmon, the composer uses one main theme throughout, allowing it to be developed in both traditional (mainly romantic) and contemporary (mid-20th century) ways.

This work was specially composed at the invitation of Singaporean choreographer Goh Lay Kuan for the 1994 Singapore Art Festival.

'NUO' DANCE (1993)
The music is taken from the dance drama "Nu Wa" and is one of the vigorous sections.

In ancient time, when calamities befall mankind, people would dance the "Nuo" dance as part of the ritual seeking help from Heaven.

The Chinese character "Nuo" .contains two parts, on the left is 'people, and on the right "disaster"

Today, "Nuo" dance in China are performed differently from place to place. The "Nuo" dance that you are going to listen to bears no origin. It is entirely the subjective realization of the composer based on his personal imagination and understanding through certain descriptive records.

This piece of music consists of three sections:

a. Prayer

b. 'Nuo' dance

c. Thanksgiving

It is also specially composed at the invitation of Singaporean choreographer Goh Lay Kuan for the 1994 Singapore Art Festival.

HAN SHI (1984)
The music is based on a poem by the Tang Dynasty poet Han Hong, translated as follows:

Springtime in town flowers abound blossoming,

on "Han Shi" days the East Wind blows inclined the royal willows,

within the Han Palace at dusk candles are lit in relay,

behold the soft incense disperse in all noblemen's mansions.

The opening flourish is continued by the violins, who establish an accompaniment for the noble principal theme, introduced by trombones and lower strings, and then horns in canon. The music builds up in intensity, broadens out and arrives at a climax.

The canonic agitated, reaching the main climax of the movement, assisted by the percussion battery. An adagio calmato winds down the tension, creating a restful and somewhat meditative atmosphere with harp and piano in triplet octaves over the gentle ostinato of triangle, tam-tam and timpani. Two solo violins weaving their way in the upper reaches help to end the movement in contemplative serenity.

This piece was premiered by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra on 19th, 20th October 1984 at the Victoria Concert Hall.

PING-DIAO (1984)
Ping-Diao - a reminiscence of some events in the Chinese history. This piece was specially written for performance by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. Using serial technique in various presentations, the composer has deliberately utilized the pentatonic scale in his serial arrangement in order to retain an ethnic colour, and he attempts to express as a capriccio his meditation on some ancient Chinese happenings.

At the very beginning, the solo trumpet enters with a questioning recitative-like phrase, followed by sectional entries of winds and then brass in similar vein. A crescendo ensues for winds and brass only, terminated by tam-tam and bass drum. As the tam-tam shimmers, the violins, followed by the rest of the strings, continue in the spirit of the solo trumpet. The strings switch to pizzicato and the change in tone colour is accentuated by harp and vibraphone. Winds and brass weave a contrapuntal texture above the pizzicato, but the brass settles into overlapping chords which swell out and recede, while the strings break into agitated phrases. The pace quickens and a climax, marked by short sharp tutti chords, is reached. As horns and bassoons hang on, harp and vibraphone set off another pattern of overlapping wind phrases, which is soon taken up by the strings with enthusiasm. The music accelerates and arrives at an energetic march-like allegro which broadens to a powerful climax. From here there is a gradual winding down and the textures of the initial section return. A harp glissando over a timpani roll leads to a flute cadenza, and the movement dies away on a sustained double-bass note.

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