• 2(2pic)+pic.3(ca).3(Ebcl,bcl).3(cbn)/43(pictpt).3(btbn).1/timp.4perc/pf.hp/str
  • 26 min

Programme Note

Related works:
China Dreams
Prelude
Fanfare
The Stream Flows (for string orchestra)
The Stream Flows (for violin)
The Stream Flows (for viola)
The Three Gorges of the Long River

Composer note:

The four movements that make up China Dreams were composed at different times between 1992 and 1995, when I was composer-in-residence with the Seattle Symphony. Although the first two movements were commissioned respectively by the Houston Symphony and the New York Philharmonic, from the very beginning I had the idea to combine them into a larger symphonic suite. The first movement is dedicated to Christoph Eschenbach and the Houston Symphony; the second is dedicated to Kurt Masur and the New York Philharmonic; the last two are dedicated to Gerard Schwarz and the Seattle Symphony.

The first movement, Prelude, is lyrical and atmospheric; its themes have the folk flavor of the northwest region of China. The next movement is a fanfare – brilliant, percussive and insistent. The Stream Flows, for strings alone, is based on a well-known Chinese folk tune from the Yunnan Province in the south of China. The final movement, The Three Gorges of the Long River (also known as the Yangtze River), continues and develops music introduced in the prelude.

The title China Dreams has two meanings. First, while I was writing this music, I realized that I was very homesick for China, which I had not seen since I left there in 1982. So in a sense it is the music that I as an émigré had to write. Secondly, the first half of the last movement came to me in a dream, and although I usually find that the music I hear in my dreams does not stand up well the next day, this proved to have more staying power.

— Bright Sheng


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China Dreams: Prelude
China Dreams: Fanfare
China Dreams: The Stream Flows
China Dreams: The Three Gorges of the Long River

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