About this work:
With a composition commission award from the Fromm Music Foundation at Harvard University, the quintet Fiddle Suite is written for Kronos Quartet and Chinese fiddle player Miss Jiebing Chen. Fiddle Suite consists of three movements: Singing, Reciting and Dancing. The erhu is featured in Singing with flowing melodic lines, while the string quartet sounds like a group of Chinese percussion instruments. The second movement is a realization of a poem "Bright Moon, how long will you with us?" by Su Shi (1036-1101), on the lower range fiddle zhonghu which imitates the exaggerated reciting voice in Chinese operatic style, while the string quartet plays mysterious textures to creates the atmosphere, to express the parting sorrow in the poem. In the third movement, the jinghu is one of the Beijing Opera major accompanying instruments, in a higher range comparing with the erhu, the timbre is brighter as well) plays very fast moving notes. Its image came from the dancing ink on paper in Chinese calligraphy. Held in a vertical position on the lap, the erhu consists of a long, straight stem connected to a resonator which is covered on one side by a snakeskin or wooden sound board and open on the other (with decoration window). The lack of a fingerboard (with a movable metal piece qianjin fixed on the strings indicating the first position for the left hand) and a bow fixed between the two strings (near the bridge) are unique features of this instrument. The erhu family (generally called huqin has rich timbres according to various types of local folk music and language, some unconventional performing style and technique are used in this work, to explore more possibilities on wider range of musical expressions.
I adapted the piece for huqin and string orchestra in 1998, for the performance of Mr. Xu Ke and the Japan Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra at Suntory Hall in Tokyo. The full orchestra version was premiered with the Singapore Symphony on its European tour in 2000. With a commission from the Taipei Municipal Chinese Orchestra in 2007, I have adapted the work again for Chinese orchestra.
Version: Huqin (Chinese fiddles) and string orchestra/string quartet/full orchestra/Chinese instrumental orchestra
Year composed: 1997
Ensemble type: Orchestra:String Orchestra with Soloist(s)
Instrumentation notes: Chinese fiddles ERHU with string quartet or string orchestra or full orchestra. Published by Theodore Presser Company [114-41052].