Kai-Young CHAN: “Echoes of the Autumn Night”《秋夕迴聲》for two violins (2018)

(Commissioned by violinist Patrick T.S. Yim and premiered by violinists Patrick T.S. Yim and Joel Smirnoff)



November 1, 2018 performed by violinists Patrick Yim and Joel Smirnoff at “Concert with Juilliard Violin Faculty Joel Smirnoff, Samuel Ericsson (cello), Felix Ungar (viola), and Rachel Cheung (piano)” (Sponsored by the Institute of Creativity and the Hung Hin Shiu Charitable Foundation.), Academic Community Hall at Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong. (World Premiere Performance)

Programme Notes

Echoes of the Autumn Night draws its pitch materials and structure from the poem Autumn Night by Tang Dynasty poet Du Mu, who expressed with his poem the loneliness of a palace servant whose fan has lost its purpose as autumn arrived – an allusion to the waning influence of the poet’s family in the imperial court. Also featured in the poem were the stars of the Cowherd and the Weaving Lady, a legend about two separated lovers who can only meet once a year.

The poetic imageries of starlight and glimmering fireflies tracks inspired the shimmery timbre of the harmonic trills featured throughout the piece, which at times hint at the theme pointillisntically, and at other times recede to the background as accompaniment to the lyrical and expressive lines drawn from the tonal contour of the poem. The two violins often exchange in roles and echo each other’s materials, but there are also climactic moments where the two work together as a single entity.

This work is commissioned by violinist Patrick Yim.

Autumn Night by Du Mu (translation by the composer)

Silver candle, autumnal glow, a chilling painted screen.
With a small round fan of light silk gauze, she fans the flitting fireflies
On the palace steps descends the night cool as water.
Laying down, she gazes at the Cowherd and the Weaving Lady stars.

《秋夕》 杜牧