Fiddle Suite

for Huqin and String Orchestra

Chen Yi

Duration: 00:16:00
Publisher: Theodore Presser Company
Print Status: Rental

Quick Overview

With a composition commission award from the Fromm Music Foundation at Harvard University, my string quintet "Fiddle Suite" was originally written for Kronos Quartet and Chinese fiddle (huqin) player Miss Jiebing Chen. I rewrote the piece for huqin and string orchestra for the performance of Mr. Xu Ke and the Japan Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra at Suntory Hall, Tokyo, Japan on April 19, 1998, conducted by Toyama Yuzo.
Fiddle Suite consists of three movements: "Singing", "Reciting" and "Dancing". The erhu is featured in "Singing" with flowing melodic lines, while the string orchestra sounds like a group of Chinese percussion instruments. The second movement is a realization of a poem ?Bright Moon, how oft art thou with us?? by Su Shi (1035-1101), on the lower range fiddle, zhonghu, which imitates the exaggerated reciting voice in Chinese operatic style, while the string orchestra plays mysterious textures to create the atmosphere, to express the parting sorrow in the poem. In the third movement, the jinghu, (one of the Beijing Opera major accompanying instruments, in a higher range compared with the erhu, the timbre is brighter as well) plays very fast moving notes. Its image came from the dancing ink on paper in Chinese calligraphy. Held in a vertical position on the lap, the erhu consists of a long, straight stem connected to a resonator which is covered on one side by a snakeskin or wooden sound board and open on the other (with decoration window). The lack of a fingerboard (with a movable metal piece ?qianjin? fixed on the strings indicating the first position for the left hand) and a bow fixed between the two strings (near the bridge) are unique features of this instrument. The erhu family (generally called ?huqin?) has rich timbres according to various types of local folk music and language, some unconventional performing style and technique are used in this work, to explore more possibilities on wider range of musical expressions.

"Fiddle Suite" also exists in alternative versions for Huqin and String Quartet, or Huqin and String Quintet. The first performance of the String Orchestra version was on April 19th, 1999, with Xu Ke (Huqin soloist) and the Japan Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra, Yuzo Toyama, conductor. The first performance of the full Orchestra version was with Xu Ke (Huqin soloist) and the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, Lan Shui, conductor, on October 6th, 2000, in Victoria Concert Hall, Singapore.

Additional Information

Commission Fromm Music Foundation at Harvard University
Composition Date 1997
Orchestration Huqin, Str.
Premiere 19th April, 1999. Xu Ke, Huqin, Japan Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Yuzo Toyama, Suntory Hall, Tokyo.


I - Singing
II - Reciting
III - Dancing