Cave Railroad (2011)
for Solo Alto Saxophone
Commissioned by Po-Fang Chang
Duration: 9 minutes
Cave Railroad for Solo Alto Saxophone is commissioned by saxophonist Po-Fang Chang for his Master of Music degree recital and the performance of the North American Saxophone Alliance 2012 Biennial Conference. When accepting the commission, I recalled a Taiwanese folk song, Diu Diu Dong, which describes the moment when an old train is rushing through a tunnel. However, I only use the beginning of this folk song as a motif of this piece. Containing two neighbor tones (upper and lower) around the main note, the motif is very simple so that it can be easily varied in many ways while functioning as the main strand to unify the whole piece.
Cave Railroad is a single-movement piece with two contrasting sections (slow-fast). Although I borrowed very little from the original folk song, it nevertheless inspired me to compose this piece about trains. This music of mine begins with lyrical and sentimental melodies, and they are associated with the image of an old train. The slow and flowing tune also indicates something vague and obscure, for example, the moment when the train rushes into the dark of the tunnel. Followed by the fast section, the music sounds mechanical yet is full of momentum. The interval, perfect fourth or perfect fifth, portrays the sound of the moving old train, and the multiphonics symbolize the whistle of the steam train. This piece of music depicts how the past can be transferred to the current time, just like a train running through the dark to embrace the brightness of the daylight, and it becomes more and more energetic toward the end.
This is the world premiere recording.
– Feng-Hsu Lee (October 22, 2011 West Hartford, CT)