Four Spirits

Concerto for Piano and Orchestra

Chen Yi

Performing Ensemble: Piano with Orchestra
Duration: 26:00
Publisher: Theodore Presser Company
Print Status: Rental

Quick Overview

Four Spirits represented the four sacred animals in Chinese legend: the blue dragon in the east, the black xuanwu (a combination of turtle and snake in one) in the north, the white tiger in the west, and the red phoenix in the south. The images have inspired me in my music creation. The first movement features a bright and refreshing image, with tunes composed in the style of Chinese folk songs drawn from the center part of China, the music is lyrical and energetic. The sonority in the second movement is dark, mysterious and imaginative, with passionate and expressive layers, as well as vertical soundscapes and space presented by the piano solo. In the third movement, the dramatic, witted, and powerful characteristics are presented by the patterns in extreme registers on the piano, supported by sections of instruments in the orchestra. This shorter movement serves as an episode towards the final movement. The fourth movement is fast, lively, fluent, and vibrant. The thematic material is taken from a folk tune in South China. The piano and the orchestra became an organic whole in the four-movement concerto, symbolizing the spirits of the culture from the East.

Scores & Parts

Four Spirits - Full Score - Study
Four Spirits - Full Score - Large

Additional Information

Commission Commissioned by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Composition Date 2016
Orchestration Solo Pno.; 2(2 = Picc.) 2 2 2 - 4 2 3(B.Tbn.) 1; Timp. 2Perc. Str.
Premiere World premiere: 18 November 2016 - The Forbidden. City Concert Hall, Beijing, China. U.S. premiere: 8 December 2016 - Memorial Hall in the Carolina Performing Arts (CPA), University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The China Philharmonic Orchestra, Y


I. The Blue Dragon in the Est
II. The Black Xuanwu in the North
III. The White Tiger in the West
IV. The Red Phoenix in the South

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