Spring in Dresden

for Violin and Orchestra

Chen Yi

Duration: 00:20:00
Publisher: Theodore Presser Company
Print Status: Rental

Quick Overview

The violin concerto is commissioned by Friends of Dresden Music Foundation for American soloist Mira Wang and the New York Philharmonic and Staatskapelle Dresden as an American commemoration of the reconstruction of the Dresden Frauenkirche, 60 years after its destruction in World War II by American and British Forces. The world premiere is given at the Semperoper in Dresden, Germany, on October 9, 10 & 11, 2005, conducted by Ivan Fischer.

Full of excitement and inner power, the musical image is vivid, energetic, sometimes
lyrical and sometimes dramatic. The major angular thematic material (a three note
motive) consists of big leaps in interval (a perfect fourth downward and then a minor
seventh upward, first introduced by the violin solo in measures 27-29). Except for the
cadenzas which stand at the middle (Rehearsal E, measure 127) and the two ends of the piece as a frame, the virtuosic violin solo line is always accompanied by the ever moving and growing textures in the background. The rests between long and short phrases symbolize the space in Chinese paintings. The Beijing Opera reciting tune, and the fingerings to produce sliding tones in the performance of the Chinese fiddle erhu are also borrowed in the writing and the performing of the western instruments.

The musical imagination of the violin concerto came from an ancient Chinese poem with the same title, written by Du Fu (712-770) in Tang Dynasty.

Happy Rain on a Spring Night
by Du Fu (712-770 in Tang Dynasty)

Happy rain comes in time,
When spring is in its prime.
With night breeze it will fall,
And quietly moisten all.
Clouds darken wild roads,
Light brightens a little boat.
Saturated at dawn,
With flowers blooming the town.

(English translation by Chen Yi from the original poem in Chinese)

The following is the poem in its original Chinese form, and the detailed introduction on
the structural plan of the violin concerto Spring in Dresden.

It?s like the welcome rain on a quiet spring night that nurtures the budding seeds, our new
society is pushing us forward to the new future. The music reflects the scenes and the
expression according to the meaning of the poem when it?s being unfolded line by line.
Although the tempo is set 63 quarter notes per minute throughout (played vividly, never
slow down), the tension is being built up from the quiet background in the beginning, to
the sustained climax towards the end. The musical image in Rehearsal A and B (measures
39-80) represents the first four lines of the poem. The wind instruments response to the
rustling of fast moving notes on muted string triplets, decorated by occasional strokes
produced by metallic string sound and high woodwind gestures. The music in Rehearsal
C and D (measures 81-126) represents the next two lines of the poem. It's so dark, a little
light in the boat is shimmering on the lake... The breathy sound and key slaps on the
flutes create a mysterious atmosphere, in a dialogue with other instruments. The cello
glissandi recite the poem in the tone of Mandarin, echoed by the string harmonics. The
music in Rehearsal F, G and H (m 129-202) is a toccata, starting in the orchestra (led by
the marimba), which builds up a big shape, to reach the climax in m. 157 (Rehearsal G,
the location of the Golden Section, according to the length of the music without
cadenzas), and keeps the vivid scene towards the coda (from Rehearsal I, m. 203), which
stands on the energetic peak until the clear cutoff on measure 239, followed by the short,
yet powerful solo conclusion with the lingering echo produced by the high string
harmonics. On the top, there is a recall of the three note motive in the sound of
wonderland, touched by the motor-on vibraphone meaningfully.

The music is written for 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets (in Bb), 2 bassoons, 4 French horns (in F), 2 trumpets (in Bb), 3 trombones, tuba, harp, 3 percussion players (Perc. 1:
xylophone; Perc. 2: suspended cymbal, Japanese high woodblock, snare drum, bass drum and vibraphone; Perc. 3: marimba and tam-tam), solo violin, and strings.

Duration is about 20 minutes.

Additional Information

Commission Commissioned by Friends of Dresden Music Foundation for violinist Mira Wang and the New York Philharmonic and Staatskapelle Dresden
Composition Date 2005
Orchestration Solo Vln.; 2 2 2 2 - 4 2 3 1; 3Perc. Hp. Str.
Premiere Premiered at the Semperoper in Dresden, Germany, on October 9, 10 and 11, 2005. Ivan Fischer, conductor

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