Clarinet Quintet

Quintet (2008-2009)
for Clarinet and String Quartet

Award:
The Honorable Mention of the Chamber Music Rochester Young Composer Competition (2009)

World Premiere:
February 25, 2009
Feng-Hsu Lee MM Degree Recital
Kilbourn Hall, Eastman School of Music, Rochester, NY
Eugene Pook, clarinet; Chen-Han Tsai, Christina Zhou, violins; Oliver Chang, viola; Matthew Huber, cello

Duration: 19 minutes

Program Notes

Quintet for clarinet and string quartet is inspired by three Japanese poems, the haikus of Matsuo Basho (1644-1694).  Two of the three poems are from Basho’s The Narrow Road to Oku.  Every poem represents the main idea of a respective movement.  Nevertheless, there is no general title for the whole piece, because I would like my audience to be touched by the purity of the music, without restricting their emotional response.  Therefore, my stance as a composer here is to represent the poems while integrating my own interpretation of the poems into the music.

The three haikus of Matsuo Basho I chose for this piece are as follows,

I.
Sick on a journey,
my dreams wander
the withered fields.

II.
Spring going-
birds weeping, tears
in the eyes of fish.

III.
Summer grass-
all that’s left
of warriors’ dreams.

(translated by Robert Hass)

In this piece, the clarinet in the three movements plays the role of a sick traveller, a weeping bird and a brave warrior in the three poems.  My interpretation of the three poems is related to an incident occurring to my family last summer.  When I returned toTaiwanfor the summer break last year, my first one after studying in the United States, I thought I would have a wonderful time meeting my family and friends, to my great consternation, my father suddenly fell seriously ill.  He was diagnosed as having a lung cancer, and until this moment, he is still undergoing his chemotherapeutic treatment.  When first learning this bad news, my mother, my younger sister and I could not believe that a person who never smoked and drank alcohols, like my father, could have had a lung cancer.  As the bird weeping for a passing spring in the second poem, I just could not stop my tears from blurring my eyes, and my father, like the sick traveler, struggled against the unfair trial of destiny and he needed to fight for his life like the brave warrior.  However, he is highly aware that there are too many things and people he wants to cherish and hang on for, and therefore, he simply cannot drop out of his life journey easily.  Meanwhile, I also find how much I have loved my father, just in the same, profound way he has always loved me.

This piece is for my Master of Music degree thesis at Eastman School of Music, and this is a piece I would like to dedicate to my dearest father.  Without his wholehearted support and understanding, my dream of studying here would not have come true.  My father also has done his best to remain positive about life even if he has undergone several painful treatments.  Through him, I also learn that I can be brave and positive even if life is often unpredictable.

This is the world premiere recording.

The First Movement

The Second Movement

The Third Movement

這首《豎笛五重奏》的靈感出自於日本詩人松尾芭蕉的三首俳句,其中兩首是選自他的《奧の細道》,我使用這三首俳句成為此曲每個樂章表達的中心思想。然而我不替此曲冠上標題的原因是,我想要保存聽者對於聆賞絕對音樂時的感動,因此我站在一個閱讀者的角度,試圖去反映讀後的詩意,並且在音樂中加入屬於個人當下有意義的情感。

我使用的這三首芭蕉的俳句分別是:
I.旅に病んで 夢は枯野を かけ廻る
II. 行春や 鳥啼魚の 目は泪
III. 夏草や 兵どもが 夢の跡

如同俳句所示,豎笛在這個曲子每個樂章中扮演的角色分別是在病榻中的旅人、哭泣的鳥,和勇敢的戰士。去年我從美國羅徹斯特回台灣過暑假,原本以為我會有一個跟家人與朋友的美好假期,但是爸爸突然地病倒了。他在七月的一次身體檢查中被告知罹患了肺癌,然後開始了化學治療直到現在。當第一次知道這消息,媽媽、我跟妹妹都無法相信一個從不抽煙酗酒的人居然會得到肺癌,那時候,我的眼淚很不爭氣地一直掉下來,如同鳥在哭泣春天的逝去。爸爸是個在病榻中需要去面對命運的旅人,而且變成一個戰士準備去跟癌症奮鬥。爸爸似乎也意識到有太多的人事物他仍眷戀,想要珍惜,所以他不允許現在就在人生旅程中這樣倒下。同時,我也發現了自己有多愛爸爸,就像他用那無盡的愛在愛我。

這首曲子是做為我在美國伊士曼音樂院的音樂碩士論文,而且我要把這首曲子獻給我最親愛的爸爸。沒有他全心全意的支持,我出國留學的夢想根本不可能實現,在他身上,他教導了我如何在無可預期的情況下剛強壯膽起來,用一種樂觀積極的態度去面對纏繞在他身上的病痛,並且勇敢地去對抗它。

– Feng-Hsu Lee (The Chinese New Year,  January 26, 2009 Rochester, NY)

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