for Oboe, English Horn, Viola, Cello and Piano
Commissioned by Sylvanus Ensemble
April 29, 2011
Sylvanus Ensemble Concert
Universalist Church, West Hartford, CT
Ling-Fei Kang, oboe; Charles Huang, English horn; Kum Joung You, viola; Han-Wei Lu, cello; Wen-Hui Lily Lin, piano
Duration: 16 minutes
After accepting the commission of Sylvanus Ensemble, I learned from a message on Facebook that Katz Lynn, a beloved teacher of mine in my undergraduate years, died of liver cirrhosis on February 15, 2011. As soon as I heard the news, all the scenes where he taught me about music appreciation and music acoustics came vividly to my mind. As the final oral exams of these courses had taken place at his house, his humorous and friendly personality eased my nerves. After I had received my first degree from SoochowUniversity, he had become not only one of my teachers, but more like a close friend. These fleeting flashbacks cruelly showed that the time we had spent together would never come back; it only became part of my deepest memories. All of a sudden, I was overwhelmed by sadness and began weeping quietly. My friend Eliot Pan asked me if I were available in Taipei to say goodbye to Mr. Lynn in the funeral service on March 13, 2011. For all my willingness to be there, I cannot because I am living and studying in the United States. As a result, I want to offer my condolences in another way and bid him a good farewell.
Path for oboe, English horn, viola, cello and piano had been commissioned by Sylvanus Ensemble by this point in time, so I decided to dedicate this piece to the memory of Katz Lynn. The first movement, “Lament”, projects a sense of sadness and sorrow that infiltrates into the mostly downward musical lines. It portrays a physical journey, alternating between nostalgic melodies and a steady yet unstable march. Because Mr. Lynn loved Dmitri Shostakovich’s music, in the second movement, “Scherzo”, I decided to quote three of Shostakovich’s symphonies, Nos. 5, 7 & 10, (the second movement of each), while recasting the famous “signature” motif [0134=DSCH] of Shostakovich. Starting with a fugal section, this movement contains some quotations that create a sense of humor and vigorousness against the chaotic background to indicate how one faces changes at the crossroads of life. The peaceful and gentle tune of the last movement, “Prayer”, is meant to be a blessing. The running triplet figures symbolize the fleeting nature of time, bringing the overlapping gestures to an emotional climax. It expresses the sorrow I have felt when I recall the good old days, yet it eventually becomes a blessing that warms my heart when I pray to the Lord. The general title of the whole piece Path refers to the narrow, musical road that Mr. Lynn revealed to me and urged me to explore, and now I am walking on this path, paying homage to him through the music I conjure up. Goodbye, Mr. Lynn.
This is the world premiere recording.
– Feng-Hsu Lee (April 7, 2011 West Hartford, CT)