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Sound Recording (Musical)
File Details:
9441 KB, 1 sound recording (10 min.) audio/x-wav
The text tells the story of ill-fated lovers destined to be together only in death. The evocative piano tremolando opening, suggestive of the Chinese dulcimer yangqin, paints a bleak picture of distant mountains and faraway lands. The silence which follows is compelling, only to be interrupted by discordant harmonies which disguise the tonality. Here again, Leong’s trademark contrast of vertical and horizontal sound planes is evident from the outset, not only within the piano part, but also when the tenor and soprano solos are pitted against the chorus. In addition, the frequent tempo and metrical changes, a device for the purpose of structural disruption, rein in the momentum of the work. The vocal writing in The Peacock’s East-Southerly Flight is patriotic in style, with many recognizable pentatonic turns of phrase. Leong maintains that this is the influence of Teochew street operas or wayangs he witnessed in his youth. This is also consistent in the piano part, particularly in running flourishes when it accompanies the soprano solo. The tenor and soprano solos in this piece are an eclectic mix of Chinese and perhaps French art songs. Though melodic, they are demanding because of their disjunctive nature and the apparent incongruence of augmented and diminished triads in the accompaniment. However, the piano as accompaniment is more idiomatic in this context as here the composer’s chordal writing is more suitable for the instrument. In addition, the harmonic language for the piano is more freely chromatic when it is independent of the voices. The lovers’ destiny to be buried by the mountains of Huashan is fatefully accompanied by the tremolando in the piano, except this time it heralds death. Their association with mandarin ducks that sing together each night has overtones of sadness, for even in this guise, their love can only be celebrated in the stealth of night.
This digital copy (c) National Library Board Singapore 2007. The original work (c) Leong Yoon Pin 1962.