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Songs in time of war

composer
first performance at Wilton Church, 8 June 2006
author of text

 
Du Fu (712-770) was born into a noble family which had fallen into relative poverty. His great ambition to serve his country was frustrated by repeated failure in the civil service examinations. He finally attained a minor administrative post but almost immediately the country was plunged into civil war. The Emperor (“The Dragon”, “Son of Heaven”) was forced to flee the capital (Chang’an) and abdicate. Du Fu managed to get his family to safety but was himself captured by the rebels. He later escaped and joined the court in exile. The war dragged on for years and ruined the country—millions were killed or displaced.

Du Fu’s precarious itinerant existence throughout the turmoil of these years provided the inspiration for some of his finest poetry. He wrote about what he saw and heard around him—the lives of his family, friends, neighbours and strangers—with great honesty and deep compassion. He is now regarded as one of China’s finest poets, but received no recognition in his own lifetime.

In 765 Du Fu began a long journey down the Yangtze (the “Great River”) towards his birthplace, which had recently been recaptured by Government forces. Progress was slow and he died before reaching his final destination.

Songs in time of war is the first in a series of four major works commissioned jointly by the Salisbury, Chelsea and Lichfield Festivals, 2006-2009. The first performances were given by Mark Padmore (tenor), Philippe Honoré (violin), Alison Nicholls (harp) and Morgan Szymanski (guitar) at Wilton Church, 8 June 2006; St Luke’s Church, Chelsea, 19 June 2006; and the Lady Chapel, Lichfield Cathedral, 6 July, 2006.

from notes by Alec Roth © 2008

Recordings

Roth: Songs in time of war
Studio Master: SIGCD124Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available

Details

No 01: Thoughts while travelling at night  Light breeze on the fine grass
Track 1 on SIGCD124 [1'33] Download only
No 02: Grieving for the young prince  From Changan walls white-headed crows took flight
Track 2 on SIGCD124 [4'06] Download only
No 03: The visitor  South and north of my house lies springtime water
Track 3 on SIGCD124 [2'08] Download only
No 04: A fine lady  There is a lady, matchless in her beauty
Track 4 on SIGCD124 [5'21] Download only
No 05: Dreaming of Li Bai  The pain of death's farewells grows dim
Track 5 on SIGCD124 [1'53] Download only
No 06: Moonlit night  In Fuzhou, far away, my wife is watching
Track 6 on SIGCD124 [3'05] Download only
No 07: An autumn meditation  I've heard it said Changan is like a chessboard
Track 7 on SIGCD124 [1'23] Download only
No 08: The old cypress tree at the temple of Zhu-ge Liang  Before the temple stands an ancient cypress tree
Track 8 on SIGCD124 [6'34] Download only
No 09: Spring scene in time of war  The state lies ruined; hills and streams survive
Track 9 on SIGCD124 [1'28] Download only
No 10: To Wei Ba, who has lived away from the court  Like stars that rise when the other has set
Track 10 on SIGCD124 [4'03] Download only
No 11: Ballad of the army carts  Carts rattle and squeak
Track 11 on SIGCD124 [5'33] Download only
No 12: Thoughts while travelling at night  Light breeze on the fine grass
Track 12 on SIGCD124 [1'47] Download only

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