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Concert honors Polish composer's key birthday

By Chen Nan | China Daily | Updated: 2023-12-02 11:23
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Rachlin and McElravy perform during the concert in Guangzhou on Sunday. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Co-commissioned by the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra and Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra, it comprises eight songs based on ancient Chinese poems by poets including Zhang Ruoxu, Li Bai and Du Fu. It took the composer from 2008 to 2017 to finish. Following its premiere in Guangzhou, it received its German premiere as part of Penderecki's season-long residency with the Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra in 2018.

"He made multiple visits to China since the end of the 1990s. He merged Chinese traditional musical instruments, like the erhu (Chinese fiddle), into this music," says Chen. "It was the last piece that Penderecki finished writing. In between, he also wrote his seventh and eighth symphonies."

Chen also says that the piece was published by the Schott publishing house, one of the oldest German music publishers.

"On the title page, a line saying that 'the music was premiered by the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra, conductor Yu Long and baritone Yuan Chenye' was printed. We are very proud," says Chen.

At just about 25 minutes, the piece contrasts with his earlier symphonies. Penderecki declared this to be his farewell to the symphonic genre.

"I have spent decades searching for and discovering new sounds. I have also closely studied the forms, styles and harmonies of past eras. I continue to adhere to both principles ... my current creative output is a synthesis," the composer once said.

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