Rhyme of Fire

for Orchestra

Chen Yi

Duration: 00:11:00
Publisher: Theodore Presser Company
Print Status: Rental

Quick Overview

Commissioned by the BBC with kind support from the K.T. Wong Charitable Trust, to mark the opening of the Beijing Olympics on August 8, 2008, my Rhyme of Fire for full orchestra looks forward to the London Olympics in 2012, evoking the image and spirit of the Olympic Fire and representing the idea of a meeting of cultures. The work was premiered at the BBC Proms 29 on August 8, 2008, by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Maestro Leonard Slatkin, at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

The music is energetic, bright and upbeat, in Chinese style and western orchestral idiom. Most of the major pitch materials in this full orchestral work came from China West folk music (Lusheng ensemble music and folksong Dou Duo of Miao people, Dui Xie dance music and folksong Amaliehuo of Tibet, and so on). The orchestral timbre with pentatonic clusters matches the sound of Lusheng ensemble?s chords (or those in bagpipe and jazz). The design of rhythmic patterns is borrowed from the Lusheng ensemble music and the Chinese folk percussion ensemble music, with fixed phrases in groups of instruments, and the recurrences of pitch materials played in all sections of codetta and coda.

The work is written for full orchestra, in a complex three-part form with recapitulation, and the total length is about 11 minutes. The sections with pitch materials A and B are in the tempo of a quarter note equaling 132 per minute. C is in the tempo of a Quarter note equaling 80 per minute. The percussion cadenza in the coda keep the fast tempo until the end.

The sections with pitch material A have a motive in upward seesaw shape with big leaps in tutti. The intervals are abstracted from Beijing Opera music. The sections with pitch material B are imitations of Lusheng (mouth-pipe organ, Chinese folk wind instrument) ensemble music, with bold melodic lines inspired by the folksong Dou Duo. The melodies in C are drawn from the folksong Amaliebuo, played in multiple layers, with an ostinato constructed from the folk dance music Dui Xie, played on the piccolo or oboe, and xylophone or glockenspiel in the background. The percussion cadenza is led by the powerful timpani in the motive of A, while the orchestral responses sounding like a giant Lusheng ensemble, brings the music to a climactic end.

Additional Information

Commission Commissioned by the BBC Proms for the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Composition Date 2008
Orchestration 3(Picc.) 3(E.H.) 3(B.Cl.) 3(Cbsn.) – 4 3(inC) 3(B.Tbn.) 1; Timp. 4Perc. Str.
Premiere 8th August, 2008. Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Leonard Slatkin, BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall, London, United Kingdom

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