I composed this rondelet for orchestra in 1953. The inscription is taken from a poem, written in exile, by Li Yu (937-978), the last emperor of the Southern Tang Dynasty:
Last night, amid broken dreams,
I was again in the Imperial City,
As in the days of old.
The flowers, the moon,
All in the spring wind.
In this work, I have tried to convey, through sound, the same emotional qualities of Chinese landscape painting and to achieve this with the same economy of means: the maximum expressiveness of a minimum calligraphical brushwork. The characteristic succession of transparent intervals used in Chinese music is freely embroidered with opulent dissonances to serve as the palette for the composer to paint in orchestral sonority, timbre, texture and dynamics. The changing mood and the emotional content of the work are thus projected by means of a tonal brushwork that splashes over the entire orchestral spectrum.
In this composition, as well as all my other works to date, I am influenced by the same philosophy that governs every Chinese artist, whether a poet or painter: namely, the affinity to nature in conception, the allusiveness in expression, and the terseness in realization.
- 2 Flutes (doubling Piccolos)
- 2 Oboes (2nd doubling English Horn)
- 2 Clarinets in B-flat (2nd doubling Bass Clarinet)
- 1 Bassoon (2nd Bassoon ad lib.)
- 1 Double Bassoon
- 2 Horns in F
- 2 Trumpets in C
- 2 Tenor Trombones
- 1 Tuba
- Xylophone, Glockenspiel (placed near III), Triangle
- Tambourine (suspended if possible, or laid flat); Snare Drum; Tenor Drum (no snare); Bass Drum; Suspended Cymbal
- Tambourine, Pair of Cymbals (a 2), Gong (all placed near I), Suspended Cymbal
- Celesta (alternating Piano)
- Violins I
- Violins II
- Double Basses
By Chou Wen-chung