About this Recording
82089 - ZHU, J.: Butterfly Fountain / Symphony No. 5

The whole piece consists of three movements, which are performed continuously. With the Chinese bass drum as the leading instrument and with the percussion as the structural fulcrum, the symphony is characteristic of the Chinese wind and percussion music. The pungent resolute first movement is like the rise out of complexity and the forging ahead through the torrent. The fugato on the percussion is even more full of vigour and energy. The second movement is the ponder over the distant past and the boundless reverie. The third movement, bold and uninhibited, possesses the vitality of folk festivities. In the coda, the tutti percussion symbolizes the magnificent soul of the nation.


In southwest China, at the foot of Nongyun Peak of Changshan Mountain north of Dali, Yunnan Province, there is a wonderful spring. In the fourth lunar month every year, countless butterflies will swarm by the spring flying, which forms a beautiful wonder. There has been a legend spread among the Bai people that a beautiful young girl named Wengu committed suicide with her sweetheart by jumping into the spring pool to demonstrate heir pursuit of the freedom of love and their determination to resist the feudal ruler's attempt to force her to marry him as a concubine. After their death, their souls turned into a couple of butterflies.

In the autumn of 1959, Zhang Rui, the erhu virtuoso and composer, returned to Yunnan, his native place, to collect folk music for musical composition. As a result, he composed four erhu pieces based on the touching legend, with Yunnan folk songs and Daili folk music he had collected as the material. Twenty-three years later Zhu Jian'er composed the suite Butterfly Fountain for erhu and orchestra on the basis of the four erhu piece. The suite was premiered in 1984.

The suite consists of four movements:

MOVEMENT 1 Mountain Song of 18 Ravines on Changshan Mountain

The brief introduction is made up of the musical material of the primary theme. Grievous, indignant, stirring and accusatory, it is the main musical image of the unyielding heroine and hero, After the introduction, to the gurgling accompaniment on the harp, the erhu plays a melodious mountain song, which is responded on the flute just as a young couple are having a dialogic singing on the hill. Then the music enters the central part, where the primary theme sounds like the young couple expressing their love for each other. After the development the orchestra plays the theme once again and drive the music to the culmination. Following this is the recapitulation of the meaningfully lingering sound of the mountain song. The two middle movement expresses the two aspects of the nature of the heroes.

MOVEMENT 2 Butterfly Dance

With martellato the erhu depicts the manner of the dancing butterflies. The mythologized butterflies are the incarnations of the dead couple. Lithe, lively and simple, the music sounds like the butterflies playing together and teasing each other.

MOVEMENT 3 Loach Ballad

This movement has drawn its musical material from dabenqu, a form of ballad popular among the Bai people. The original words describes an unyielding coach, which, when it has been caught and is being eaten by a rich person, killed him by sticking his throat with its bone. With this ballad the composer parabolizes the rebellious spirit of the heroes.

MOVEMENT 4 At the Foot of Nongyun Peak

The melody of the introduction is derived from the theme of the first movement in the style of mountain songs. The tragic melody sounds like the appearance of the couple on a dark stormy night. Then appears a hurried theme, which depicts the couple rushing through the valley to escape the pursuit of the feudal ruler's soldiers. When they have thrown off the pursuers and begin to take a short rest, the music enters the second section. At the upper register, the erhu bows the theme in the style of mountain songs to express the couple's longing for a happy life. Then the tutti orchestra strongly plays the leitmotif, which sounds like the couple's shouts as well as their resistance. Following this is the lyrical third section. The erhu sings a passionate melody. Suddenly the pursuing soldiers arrive. The couple begin to flee again. The music gets more and more rapid. In the culmination appears the cadenza on the solo erhu. lt sounds like the shivering of the hearts, the welling of the tears and the accusation with the blood... Finally the tutti orchestra passionately plays the leitmotif. It is like the deep sorrow as well as the eulogy and the reminiscence. In the silent tribute, the whole piece comes to an end. The Bais area minority nationality mainly populating Dali, Yunnan.

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