Commissioned by Stavanger Symphony Orchestra and Philharmonie Zuidnederland, with funding from the Arts Council Norway. First performed by Wu Wei, sheng, and Stavanger Symphony Orchestra conducted by Pascal Rophé in Stavanger Concert Hall, Norway, on 28 April 2022
Commissioner exclusivity applies
Unavailable for performance.
When I was invited to write a concerto for the wonderful sheng virtuoso Wu Wei, I used the opportunity to expand my journey into the fascinating universe of Wu Xing. This ancient Chinese philosophy of five elements or ‘phases’ is still central and vital in most aspects of Chinese life; medicine (for example acupuncture), home-making (feng shui), martial arts and cooking, to mention just a few.
And yes, in a traditional Chinese year there are five seasons, each corresponding to an element: Spring/Wood, Early Summer/Fire, Late Summer/Earth, Autumn/Metal, Winter/Water. And just as the seasons flow seamlessly into each other, so the five elements are in constant flux; either nourishing, as Water feeds a tree (Wood), or destroying, as Water extinguishes Fire.
Reflecting this state of flux, in Five Elements, the music is constantly on the move, always transforming from one musical character (or ‘element’) to another. And it is all contained within the sheng, this incredibly versatile mouth organ, with its rich and proud centuries-old tradition. And still it is capable of transcending into new and unknown musical territories.
After an introduction presenting the five elements, each element gets its time to shine in the five main sections of this one-movement work, with occasional short detours to other elements. And their characters should be easily recognisable; the flowing and trickling Water, the dark and solid Earth, the upwards-striving Wood (first heard in the yearning glissandi of the piece’s very first notes), the shiny Metal and - as the full powers of the sheng are unleashed - the forward-charging and all-consuming Fire.
Programme note © 2022 Rolf Wallin
- Rolf Wallin: Concerto for Sheng world premiere
- 26th April 2022
- World Premiere of Sheng Concerto by Rolf Wallin with Chinese virtuoso Wu Wei.