Chen Yi

About this work:
CHEN Yi: The Golden Flute for flute and orchestra (1997/2008) I was so excited when I learned that Mr. James Galway was enthusiastic for inviting me to write him a Chinese flute concerto after listening to my viola concerto Xian Shi, introduced to him by my former colleague Maestro Zuo-Huang Chen, then the music director of Wichita Symphony in Kansas and the China National Symphony Orchestra in Beijing. I decided to compose a flute concerto entitled The Golden Flute, using a western flute to speak in the language of Chinese wind instruments, such as the dizi made from bamboo and the xun made from clay. The composition is supported, in part, by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in the US, and completed at the Civitella Ranieri Center in Umbertide of Italy. The world premiere is given by the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra in Duluth, MN, on Nov. 8, 1997, led by Yong-yan Hu, soloist Donna Orbovich. The Golden Flute is in three movements (I. Andante, lyrically and vividly; II. Larghetto, mystically; III. Allegro, energetically), written for the solo flute, and 2 flutes (doubling 2 piccolos), 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 French horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, 3 percussion players (timpani, sustained cymbal, triangle, vibraphone, 5 high temple blocks, 5 set gongs, Japanese high wood block, glockenspiel, tam-tam, crotales, small bell, bass drum), harp, and strings. The reduction score is for flute and piano. The work (both versions, score and parts) is published by Theodore Presser Company, PA. The first recording is released on Koch International Classics in Sept. 2004, performed by Alexa Still and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, conducted by James Sedares. The new version with an additional cadenza in the beginning of the second movement is written for and dedicated to Sharon Bezaly, who recorded it with the Singapore Symphony on Bis, under the direction of Lan Shui in July 2008. Remembering when I study the Chinese folk music repertoire, I am always amazed by the variation method of the traditional Chinese bamboo flute performance. Most folk solo pieces have a single theme each, with its sectional developments in different speeds, tonguing and fingerings, and adding decorations on the important notes from the melody. It inspired me to construct my three-movement concerto, starting with the only theme in the initial three-measure phrase, which melodic material is drawn from a Chinese folk tune Old Eight Beats. The variations of the theme in the first movement are full of various grace notes and performing techniques around the melodic notes, learnt from such traditional piece as Joy of Reunion for Chinese flute dizi. In the intermezzo-like second movement, I try to imitate the sound of the ancient clay blowing instrument xun, which has a slow but tense, mysterious and dreamy voice. Between the first two movements, there is a substantial cadenza, which explores the sound of the grazioso dizi and the remote xun on the wide range western flute (from b to f4) with circular breathing technique. The third movement brings us back to the virtuosic playing style with all former pitch materials recapitulated. With an extreme contrast between the low sonority from the orchestra and the screaming passages from the solo part mixed with piccolos, the music is brought to its final climax towards the coda.
Version: Flute concerto
Year composed: 1997
Duration: 00:16:00
Ensemble type: Orchestra:Chamber Orchestra with Soloist(s)
Instrumentation: ,1 Flute soloist(s), 2 Oboe, 2 Clarinet, 2 Bassoon, 4 Horn in F, 2 Trumpet, 3 Trombone, 2 Percussion (General), 1 Strings (General), 1 Harp
Instrumentation notes: fl, orch: 2-2-2-2; 4-2-3-0; Hp., Tpt., 2Perc., Str / acc arr for pno

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