Partridge Sky 鹧鸪天
for Mezzo Soprano and Piano (2022) op.46
“Partridge Sky” for mezzo-soprano and piano was commissioned by Chamber Music Northwest for mezzo Fleur Barron and pianist Gloria Chien. The lyrics came from one of China’s most celebrated female poets Li Qingzhao (1084-ca.1155) of the Song Dynasty. She was renowned for her Ci-poetry, which is a type of lyric poetry in the tradition of Classical Chinese poetry that also draws upon folk tradition and uses various poetic meters (Wikipedia). In many of her Ci, she expressed deep love for her husband as well as her feeling of loneliness as her husband was often away from home and later passed away. The music was inspired by great French composers such as Ravel and Messiaen in the 20th century. However, I made frequent use of the fifth and fourth intervals in both the melodic lines and harmonic scheme, which is one of the significant features of Chinese music. I also adopted the oriole birdsongs reflected in this particular Ci. Note that poet Li was highly regarded for her “subtle and concise style” and therefore I compose the music accordingly.
(FANG Man, June, 2022)
Tune: Partridge Sky
by: Li Qinzhao
The migrant oriole on the bough
Tears fill my eyes
As I hear its sweet trills,
Fresh tearstains mingling with old.
A whole spring and no word from you;
A thousand Li beyond the mountain pass
I search for you in my dreams.
Wordless, facing the cup,
I resign myself to heart-rending sorrow till dusk.
No waiting for the lamp oil to run out.
I shut the door tight
As rain pelts the pear blossoms.
(Translated by Jiaosheng Wang)
July 30, 2022
for Mezzo-Soprano and Piano
Commissioned by Chamber Music Northwest for