for Solo erhu (Chinese fiddle) and orchestra – 2014
To LU Yiwen
If iI had to describe my music, i would define it much more by its coordinates than by an esthetic position ; in a three-dimensional space, somewhere at the crossroads of a fragmented map, placed between the past and the future, and located on the axis that connects our most tangible materiality to this human need of spirituality. Crossing Edges defines those edges that intersect and overlap in the representations of geometric figures in two dimensions. Therefore, in my music, this concept is echoing an imaginary journey in the form of an oscillation between a dreamed China and a Western imagination. Starting with this intense desire to share an incredible happiness on having heard the erhu (a Chinese fiddle, pronounced more or less like : "Eu-fu") of LU Yiwen at a symphonic concert proposed as a musical break during the masterclasses - in composition and analysis of modern music - I gave in 2013 at the Shanghai Conservatory. These magic sounds seemed to reach another important momentum that arisen, few months before, from discussions with a long-time friend and painter LIU Shu-Tsin, about the perspiration of the Chinese thought in her graphical representation. Finally, it was one of her recent paintings - The happy medium- which gave me the idea of the formal process of Crossing Edges. Colorful pictorial work, this triptych is situated between abstraction and figuration. It contributes to this oriental spirit which plays on oppositions without antagonism but with complementarities - the famous Yin and Yang. So, this painting derives the figure from calligraphy. From the thickness of the strokes of an ideogram emerge villages, mountainous landscapes springing from the mist. All this little world calling for the elevation of the soul.
The happy medium moreover makes reference to an ideogram that sums up the space defined in the previous lines [see the sign]. An « inside » that turns on itself and that can only exist because there is an energetic « outside », both connecting the heaven to the earth through a vertical line in the middle of the sign. Musically speaking, this will result in two expressive states which will alternate throughout the work : one, melodic, horizontal and cyclic, soft and languid, using resonances of some Chinese traditional music ; the other, vivacious an energic, highlighting the qualities of the erhu through some harmonic progressions (vertical) derived from analysis of the timbre of the instrument itself – a habit in my composition process which derives often its harmonies from the « spectral analysis » made with computer.
Besides, the Chinese musical thought upset me in many respects and helped me to situate myself in a better way. In fact, in West, we talk a lot about Cross-over about the meeting of different cultures. For many years, despite my interest in world music and its involvement in my work, I had some difficulties with these categorical definitions because i did not perceive my music under the angle of the mixture, but rather under the concept of Altra Cosa, these other « altered » cause. Chinese artists finally offered me their solution, those who refuse this notion of mixture, replacing it with the idea of « resonance », in the figurative sense, but also in its acoustic sense : when two different sounds resonate together in a reverberate place, ignoring the dominant-subordonate relationship. Then remains the perfect fusion…
Thus, it is these « resonances » of the Chinese music in fusion with my western sounds, that i would like to share with you, according to these Crossing Edges. In the hope of a new life of freedom.
The work was commissioned by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of Liege which premiered it at the « Oriental Festival » (Belgium) on February 23th, 2014 – date of the birthday of the composer ! – by LU Yiwen and the Orchestra conducted by Christian Arming.
Shu-Tsin LIU - Le juste millieu