Chen Yi

About this work:


FOUR SPIRITS For Piano and Orchestra  (2016) [26 minutes]



I.               The Blue Dragon in the East

II.         The Black Xuanwu in the North 

III.        The White Tiger in the West

IV.        The Red Phoenix in the South



2 flutes (2nd = piccolo), 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones, bass trombone, tuba, timpani, 2 percussion and strings 


Commissioned by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The world premiere is at the Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing, China on November 18, 2016. The US premiere is at the Memorial Hall in the Carolina Performing Arts (CPA), University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on December 8, 2016 by the China Philharmonic Orchestra, with piano soloist Clara Yang, conducted by Long Yu.


Four Spirits represented the four sacred animals in Chinese legend: the blue dragon in the east, the black xuanwu (a combination of turtle and snake in one) in the north, the white tiger in the west, and the red phoenix in the south. The images have inspired me in my music creation.


The first movement features a bright and refreshing image, with tunes composed in the style of Chinese folk songs drawn from the center part of China, the music is lyrical and energetic. 


The sonority in the second movement is dark, mysterious and imaginative, with passionate and expressive layers, as well as vertical soundscapes and space presented by the piano solo. 


In the third movement, the dramatic, witted, and powerful characteristics are presented by the patterns in extreme registers on the piano, supported by sections of instruments in the orchestra. This shorter movement serves as an episode towards the final movement.


The fourth movement is fast, lively, fluent, and vibrant. The thematic material is taken from a folk tune in South China. The piano and the orchestra became an organic whole in the four-movement concerto, symbolizing the spirits of the culture from the East.

Version: For Piano and Orchestra
Year composed: 2016
Duration: 00:26:00
Ensemble type: Orchestra:Orchestra with Soloist(s)
Instrumentation notes: Piano Solo, 2222, 4230, T P(2), Str.

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