Thursday, June 13, 2024

Fantasia Terra-Cotta Warriors

Fantasia Terra-Cotta Warriors

Fantasia Terra-Cotta Warriors




The Chinese conductor/composer Peng Xiu-Wen conducting the China Broadcast Chinese Orchestra is still my favourite combination for Chinese Orchestra music. It has been years maestro Peng passed away, and leaving a big gap in the Chinese Classical Music in my heart. Under the baton of Peng, the China Broadcast Chinese Orchestra has a balance plucking section against the string section, whereas many Chinese Orchestra the plucking section is weaker than the string section. Under maestro Peng, the plucking section of the Orchestra is very musical and responsive. Masestro Peng knowing so well the charateristics of the Chinese musical instruments, his conducitng and arrangements have added tremendous colours to the music.


Fantasia Terra-Cotta Warriors is a work by maestro Peng, after he visited the Terra-Cotta Warriors in 1984. The music comes with pathetic colour, presenting the hardship the warriors of the Qing Dynasty had to go through over the long years.


The music is broken into three parts:


1. 军整肃,封禅遨游几时休? Troops Parade

2. 春闺梦, 征人思妇相思苦 Dreaming Home

3. 大纛懸, 关山万里共雪寒 Long Winter March


The first part begins soft and vague, and becomes louder and grand and march into first theme on soldiers marching, solemn and grand. Second part is to describe the soldiers missing their family in the midst of long march. Last part is like the warriors on the march again and the return of the first theme, and the music ends in very strong cries of the warriors.


I have two versions of the Fantasia Terra-Cotta Warriors: both by China Broadcast Chinese Orchestra conducted by maestro Peng. One is a more recent recording by Hugo in 1992 (Hugo Gold Disc), the other is production by Taiwan Linfair. I followed Linfair for a while as it has recordings by famous Hong Kong Er Hu soloist Huang Ann Yuan (黄安源), performances by maestro Peng, Huang Ann Yuan conducting China Broadcast Chinese Orchestra, as well as recordings preformed by both maestros with the China Broadcast Chinese Orchestra.


Linfair recording has stronger echo, which makes Er Hu recordings sound a bit like pop, but with orchestra recordings this effect is not obvious. Hugo, needless to say, has recordings of audiophile standard, the sound stage is amazing as usual. Whichever recording, maestro Peng was just so consistent. His same performance that was recorded so many years apart, was just so lively, and had the solid punch.


Linfair album has other records that I like very much like 灵山梵音 (Buddha Chant in Mountain) and 月儿高(High Moon). Buddha Chant is like monks chanting in the deep mountain, music is serene. High Moon is the version orchestrated by maestro Peng, which I like the most, where he used Er Hu mainly to present the main theme, and under his baton the strings created very majestic sound stage of the music.


Hugo album also includes the Buddha Chant, and also 江河水 (River Flows) led by instrument Guan and 二泉映月 (Moon Reflection on Er Quan) led by Er Hu in Viola key. The River Flows performed by instrument Guan presented vividly the sadness and pathetic mood of the work, your heart broke listening to the performance.






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