Repertoire Search

Bright Sheng

Publisher: G. Schirmer

Postcards (1997)
G Schirmer Inc
Sub Category
Chamber Orchestra
Year Composed
15 Minutes
Purchase CD
Programme Note
Bright Sheng Postcards (1997)
Composer note:

In 1997, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra approached me with a commission offer. I was told that I was selected from among a pool of ten composers. The commissioners Ruth and John Huss (who are orchestra patrons) chose me to write a work in celebration of their silver wedding anniversary.

I subsequently had a lovely conversation with the Husses. They told me that they chose me because my music reminded them of their wonderful trip to China that they had taken a few years earlier.

So I thought a selection of musical postcards from various places in China would be appropriate for the occasion. Thus, I based each of these four short movements on a folk music style from different regions in China.

Postcards was premiered on 22 January 1998 by Hugh Wolff and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and is dedicated to Ruth and John Huss.

— Bright Sheng

  • Ensemble
    Singapore Symphony Orchestra
    Lan Shui
Sheng composed his four Postcards for Wolff and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra...They are glimpses of diverse landscapes translated first into music and then transcribed for the Western symphony orchestra, which filtered through Sheng's ear and his craftsmanlike hands, can sound like an authentic Chinese ensemble. "From the Mountains" and "From the Savage Land" made a strong contrast — the one slow and primarily melodic and coloristic in interest, the other fast and primarily rhythmic and coloristic. It made one eager to hear the whole set.
Richard Dyer, Boston Globe,01/01/0001
Sheng's Postcards quoted folk songs and folk music [with] accompanying imitation of the sound of folk instruments. [This] stood out as a major factor of the work. The concreteness of that sound left a strong impression. [The] composer makes use of the Western orchestra as [his] tool and yet there is the tenacious will to bring Western instruments closer to their folklore. The resulting music is more concrete than abstract...[perhaps] closer to a description of landscape. It creates an atmosphere in which we feel face to face with nature.
Hikaru Hayashi, Asahi Shimbun (Tokyo),01/01/0001
The Chinese-American composer Bright Sheng has become famous for mixing Asian and Western idioms, and he does it here with great success. Postcards has moments of violent depictions of the brutalities of China's Cultural Revolution, which Sheng experienced as a child. A brief theme stated at the beginning is re-worked again and again, the tension building to a clangorous climax. The other three movements, in what Sheng conceives as a set of postcards from China, are lighter and more gentle in tone. A simple folk tune is developed in the first movement, "From the Mountains." The tune begins to slide off-pitch with each re-statement, as if the tune were gradually spreading out in all directions, like water on a table. The second, "From the River Valley," based on a song from Southwest China, is fast and cheerful. It sounds like urban traffic. The title of the finale, "Wish You Were Here," suggests its tone: loneliness and nostalgia. Postcards is an evocative score and, like all his work, beautifully orchestrated. [Sheng] is someone to watch.
Michael Anthony, Minneapolis Star & Tribune,01/01/0001
Without visual images, Bright Sheng painted a vivid travelogue in his Postcards, four miniatures using Chinese melodies woven in a tonal setting. Solidly led by Chen Xieyang, the players strove to emulate traditional Chinese timbres with their Western orchestral instruments.
Gail Wein, Washington Post,01/01/0001
Close X

Newsletter Signup

Enter your email address to keep up to date with the latest news and special offers from Music Sales Classical.
Your data is secure and you can unsubscribe at any time. Read our Privacy Policy

Click here to receive regular news
© Copyright 2019 Music Sales Classical. Part of the Music Sales Group.