Thursday, July 07, 2016

Bow to Strings :: 弦中玄

Six performers from the Singapore Chinese Orchestra's (SCO, 新加坡华乐团) zhonghu section (中胡区) section took to the stage at the Esplanade Recital Studio for a performance titled 'Bow to Strings' (弦中玄). It's another erm interesting concert. You know this isn't my comfortable genre of music. But I'm open to checking out what sounds the little ensemble produced.

The six performers- Lin Gao 林杲, Wu Ke Fei 吴可菲, Li Yuan 李媛, Wilson Neo 梁永顺, Sim Boon Yew 沈文友 and Goh Cher Yen 吴泽源, took turns to play a mix of traditional, classical and contemporary huqin (胡琴) pieces to showcase the lower pitch range of the huqin. The solo and duo pieces were accompanied by a piano, and others with a double bass. Clearly, I'm not familiar with Chinese orchestral music and wouldn't have known any of the pieces. Except three because they're ridiculously popular among contemporary musicians in all disciplines.

The program informed me that these seven pieces performed were- (1) Shao Tie Hong's 'Fleeting Clouds and Running Brooks', 1947年粤语片《郎归晚》里邵铁鸿的《流水行云》, which was really familiar since I do check in with Cantonese songs, opera and whatnots; (2) 'Sounds of Xiang Opera' composed by SCO's own Sim Boon Yew, 沈文友的《芗韵》; (3) Hua Yan Jun's 'Ebbing Tides', 华彦钧的《大浪淘沙》which talks about the beauty of China's Jiangnan province; (4) Liu Changfu's 'Amorous Thoughts Beyond the Border', 刘长福的《塞外情思》which really brought to mind the vastness of northern China and trotting horses across the plains; (5) Liu Wenjin's 'Fire- Maiden in the Dreamboat ', 刘文金的《火-彩衣姑娘》which supposedly includes elements and structure of Indian classical carnatic melodies and Buddhist music which sounded more like chants and Zen honkyoku to me; (6) and (7) finally, with the accompanying double bass, xylophone and percussion, they played Argentinian composer Astor Piazzolla's tango evergreens 'Oblivion' and 'La Muerte del Ángel'.

The 80-minute performance had no encore. The emcee was impressively bilingual, fluid in switching between English and Mandarin when introducing each piece, and giving the crew enough time to shift the instruments around. The huqin is definitely less shrill than the erhu, making for (what seems to me) more pleasant listening. I was entertained enough not to fall asleep. 

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