Notes by Chen Yi on her Plum Blossom for piano solo
Commissioned by The Chopin Society of Hong Kong Ltd., my piano solo work Plum Blossom is written for the 5th Hong Kong International Piano Competition, for all 15 semi finalists to perform as the compulsory between the 7th and the 14th October 2019. In Chinese culture, the plum blossom symbolizes noble, elegant, perseverance, independence, and faithfulness. The pitch material of the piece is taken from the beginning of a popular Cantonese children’s song Moonlight. There are developments of the initial material in variations throughout the piece, featuring the expressions of the image with the performing techniques for both hands with the textures in layers.
Notes by Nimrod Borenstein on his Méphisto Étude opus 66 No. 6 for piano solo
Since I was a child I have loved and admired the Chopin Études, thought them extraordinary and unique, and wished that one day I would write my own set of 24! I started on my project of 24 Études a few years ago and the Méphisto Étude is my sixth Étude which title was inspired by its striking opus number, Op 66 No. 6, the famous number 666. The preceding Études are the Ostinato Étude, the Half Moon Étude, the Tango Étude, the Arpeggio Étude and the Kangding Qingge Étude.
For me Études are a virtuosic and artistic endeavour for the performer but also for the composer. They are short meaningful pieces which by their intensity give the illusion of much longer works. The Méphisto Étude has many facets and challenges and is full of contrasts. From very fast and devilish to ethereal or lyrical, passing through moments of quirky lightness, it is ever changing with many colours of sound ranging from the velvety to the percussive and rhythmical. The changes of speed, dynamics, texture or length, can sometime occur at the same time. I love having many melodies sounding simultaneously, layered together with a complex combination of rhythms that is my personal style of counterpoint.
I believe that contrast is one of the most important elements in Music and Art. Contrasts provide interest and create structure whilst showing the ambivalence of all things.
Notes by Adam Johnson on his “Four: The Birds” - a piece for 4 pianos
Composed by Adam Johnson (2019) Commissioned by the 2019 Hong Kong International Piano Festival
My inspiration for this work began when I lived by the sea in North Norfolk, UK.
At my house, the garden was always filled with a variety of birds who would appear throughout the day and, if I left my windows open and played the piano, it seemed to attract more of them as the day went on. They would often sing vivaciously as I played.
It was during these two years (2017-19) living by the sea that I became interested in “morphic resonanace”.
Rupert Sheldrake’s theory of morphic resonance studies similar forms who reverberate and exchange information within a universal life force: “Natural systems, such as termite colonies, or pigeons, or orchid plants, or insulin molecules, inherit a collective memory from all previous things of their kind, however far away they were and however long ago they existed,” Sheldrake writes in his 1988 book, Presence of the Past (Park Street Press), ”…Things are as they are because they were as they were.”
Morphic resonance, Sheldrake says, is “the idea of mysterious telepathy-type interconnections between organisms and of collective memories within species” including birds.
What I imagined while composing this new piece of music was the idea of a conversation between birds but not only in my garden, but rather a simultaneous discussion with birds hundreds of miles away. The passing of knowledge between an organism to another with the utmost understanding of that knowledge.
Therefore, using a series of pianists who played the same music a few seconds apart, is my attempt at following a morphic resonance in musicians also. Being a chamber musician myself, there is tangible energy and understanding amongst musicians during performances.
What I hope to achieve with “Four: The Birds” is a focused discussion, imitation, dialogue between pianists who are connected by answering one another, with the same musical material.
The language in the music is based upon modes, triads and the interplay between consonance and dissonance. It is also based upon physical space of the resonance “in the air” from all four pianists.
Notes by Dusan Bogdanovic on his Hong Kong Ricercars
There are two things that make piano-guitar duo a challenging instrumental group to write for. First, there is the sheer volume imbalance which requires delicate treatment. Second, because it is both a melodic and polyphonic instrument, texturally, guitar could be considered a “mini-piano”. Therefore, when my friend Alvaro Pierri asked me to write a piece for piano and guitar, my approach has been to avoid both dynamic imbalance and textural redundancy. The result is a duo that is rich in color, texture and personality, which functions more like one entity than as two separate instruments.
Hong Kong Ricercars is built around the concept of ricercar, which was considered an “ideal form” by the artists of the Renaissance era. It is a fluid polyphonic structure based on improvisatory treatment of melodic motifs. Since I have been involved in both composition and improvisation over many years, ricercar fits in perfectly with my own aesthetics. This composition reflects my long-time interest in polyrhythm and modal music. The melody of Hong Kong Ricercars is built on freely treated medieval chants combined with African rhythmic profiles. Although the piece has been divided into three movements, all the material is based on the same basic theme which shows up in many guises throughout the piece. This composition also reveals the possibility of creating balanced structures by integrating the smallest building block-motifs of very diverse origins into a coherent whole.
It is my great pleasure to dedicate this composition to both Alvaro Pierri and to The Hong Kong International Piano Competition.
受香港蕭邦協會委約，陳怡的鋼琴獨奏曲《梅花》為第五屆香港國際鋼琴比賽而作，作為 15 位半 決賽入圍者的必彈曲目。此曲採用了粵語兒歌《月光光》開頭幾個音作為音調材料在全曲中進行了 變化發展。多層次的音響與織體充分發揮了雙手的表演特性，著意表現梅花高潔、清雅、堅毅、獨立與忠實的形象。
由亞當•莊遜創作 （2019） 受2019年香港國際鋼琴大賽委約
有兩個因素使為鋼琴與結他譜寫二重奏是一個具有挑戰性的事。首先，需要細心處理音量上絕對的不平衡。第二，結他是一件旋律和複調樂器，在織體上，它可以被認為是一部「迷你鋼琴」。因此，當我的朋友阿爾瓦羅•皮耶里要求我寫一首鋼琴和結他曲時，我的方法一直是避免音量上的不平衡和多餘的織體。結果是寫了一首有著豐富色彩、質感和個性的二重奏。鋼琴和結他更像是一個整體，而不是兩個獨立的樂器。 《香港里切爾卡》是圍繞里切爾卡的概念而創作的，文藝復興時期的藝術家們認為里切爾卡是「理想的曲式」。它是一種流動的複調結構，基於即興處理旋律動機。自從我參與作曲和即興創作多年來，里切爾卡完全符合我的個人美學觀。這首作品反映了我長期對複合節奏和調式音樂的興趣。香港里切爾卡的旋律是把自由的中世紀吟唱與非洲節奏輪廓相結合。雖然這件作品被分成三個樂章，所有材料是源於同一個的基本主題，在全曲中以不同的形態出現。這首作品也顯示一種創造平衡結構的可能性，以各種不同來源的小型構建動機來組合出一個連貫的整體。 我很高興將這首樂曲獻給阿爾瓦羅·皮耶里和香港國際鋼琴大賽。