Published by
Project 440

Yao Chen

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Glowing Autumn (from two poems)

Performed by the Orchestre National de Lorraine; conducted by Jacque Mercier.

The autumn of 2005 is special in my memory—it arrived suddenly, and faded away at an extremely slow pace. It was amazing for me to listen to the sound of the wind blowing through the leaves, and to watch how those trembling leaves changed their colors over time. In response to those enchanting colors and sounds, that autumn I composed these two orchestral tone poems.

The first poem, Sough, dipicts the murmurous sounds of the trembling leaves in the wind. I designed the textural proportions of the strings and the other instruments to reflect how nature and human beings are represented in traditional Chinese landscape painting: Nature always dominates the scene and dwarfs the human inhabitants. Even though nature occupies such a prominent position on the canvas, tiny human figures hidden in nature are indispensable for a landscape drawing; humans are the spirit of nature. In this tone poem, the strings symbolize nature, and a few wind and percussion instruments symbolize the human inhabitants.

In contrast to Sough, the second poem, Glowing Autumn, explores the full palette of a chamber orchestra. The coloristic transformations and the bold dramatic gestures in this poem present us with another way of perceiving the autumnal landscape: As humans become deeply enamored of nature, they take nature into their spirits. The boundary between humans and nature blurs, and then fades. They have gradually become one, breathing in and out, expressing feelings, emotions, and thoughts.