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Bright Sheng

Publisher: G. Schirmer

Let Fly (2013),
G Schirmer Inc
Soloists and Orchestra
Year Composed
30 Minutes
Solo Instrument(s)
Programme Note
Bright Sheng Let Fly (2013),
First performance:
October 4 2013
Gil Shaham, violin
Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Leonard Slatkin, conductor
Detroit, MI

Composer's Note:

Borrowed from a folk song genre in southeast China (‘flying song’), the title of the work came from two inspirations. First, it is the aural image of the violin melody just flying off in the air, an everlasting sensation when I first saw Gil Shaham perform at a concert.

The second inspiration of the title came from my daughter Fayfay (homonym for ‘to fly’ in Chinese). I wrote a child rhyme named after her when she was born on November 15th, 2010. And the theme of the song appears a few times in the composition.

The work is simply structured: three movements in one, with a cadenza between the second and third movement. The soloist is encouraged to write his or her own cadenza, of no more than 1-2 minutes, ideally based on the materials which have appeared up to this point of the concerto.

— Bright Sheng

Reviews's a wonderfully crafted, entirely personal compositional statement that draws on folk tunes and a lyrical use of the violin… I suspect that Sheng's daring, virtuoso creation will see many more performances.
Brian Wigman, Classical Net,05/10/2013
It’s an exuberant work, controlled by the image of a virtuoso violin soaring above the orchestra. Sheng is well-known for blending elements of his Chinese heritage into a basically American symphonist language, and while the form of the concerto is quite traditional – a fast-slow-fast structure that unfolds in one continuous movement – the music is tinged with alluring exotica and drama.

The color and flavor of Chinese folk song pulsates through the DNA of the piece though Sheng doesn’t quote literal folk material. The solo violin melodies slide provocatively between pitches; scales and harmonies wander into pleasant astringencies. Sheng’s orchestration is also full of surprise. He has a way of snapping the ensemble to attention with all kinds of percussion (vibes, bongos, gong, etc.). As the music progresses, the soloist seems to keep picking up dance partners, falling into rewarding duets with cello, bass clarinet, clarinet, timpani, French horn, another violin and more, before striking back out on his own. Orchestral passages offered climaxes of austere brass or lushly blended strings and winds.
Mark Stryker, Detroit Free Press,05/10/2013
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