Xuntian He: Dabo River Caprice
Soprano: Grace Lin / Xiao: Chih-Ting Wu / Little Giant Chinese Chamber Orchestra, Tien-Ku Percussion Group, Qingyun Choir / Chih-Sheng Chen / National Concert Hall, Taipei, Taiwan. 2011.1.29.
The Dabo River is located in the upper reaches of the Fujiang River in Sichuan. The Dabo people (also known as “White Horse Tibetans”) live on both sides of the river and are known for their singing and dancing. Their dances and songs, usually accompanied by one or two percussion instruments, have distinct melodic and rhythmic characteristics which the composer has incorporated into this work. This rustic and colourful piece won first prize in the Third National Chinese Music Composition (ethnic instrumental music) Awards.
Dabo River Caprice has two movements. The first is in sonata style which describes the misty, tranquil and charming scenery of the Dabo River in the summer evening fog. The main theme is based on the “Lazhutuge” from the ancient folk song “Song of Wine”. Erhu and dizi plays a long and elegant melody, like a gentle song slowly rising and floating on the sparkling clouds of Dabo River. The supporting theme of this movement is based on the folk song “Sa Yo”, which is warm, lively, and depicts the joyful scene of youths playing in the river. The last theme of the first movement is sung by choir accompanied by the flowing notes of the konghou (harp), carillon, and the bright yunluo (group of gongs), bringing a feeling of enchantment.
The second movement is an exciting Rondo – an energetic and fast dance. The first section depicts the girls’ beautiful and graceful dance accompanied by plucked string instruments. The second section is sung by the choir and describes the Dabo people gathering in the meadow by the river, singing and dancing around the bonfire at the evening festival. Finally, all the sections are superimposed together, the voices and music merge into one, with a jubilant climax that vividly portrays the bold, enthusiastic and optimistic character of the Dabo people.
(Trans: Kiah Mok Goh / Edit: Patty Chan)