Spring Dreams for Violoncello and Traditional Chinese Orchestra (1997)
In traditional Chinese music, almost without exception, a composition is decorated with a descriptive title. In addition, different sections within one work (even when played without interruption) are often given different names. These titles, though not necessarily programmatic, usually suggest and evoke the essential character and nature of a work, and traditionally they benefit all three groups of people participating in a composition: the composer, the performer, and the listener. While the advantages for a listener might be obvious, a title also typically serves as a fountainhead for the composer’s imagination (whether it was given before, during, or after the completion of the work) and as a point of departure for the recreation by the performer, frequently the composer.
The word chun (spring) in classical Chinese also has strong connotations of lust and sensual love.
The first movement, Midnight Bells, is in part inspired by some of the lines in a Tang Dynasty poem:
…And, from afar, of the temples
in the Chilly Mountains
The sound of the midnight bells
sings over the arriving boat.
Chang Ji (?-780)
Spring Dreams was commissioned for Yo-Yo Ma and the National Traditional Orchestra of China by The Carnegie Hall Corporation. The premiere performance was given at Mechanics Hall, Worcester, Massachusetts on February 19, 1997, and the New York premiere is tonight here at Carnegie Hall. It is dedicated to Yo-Yo Ma.