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Gao Ping: The Mountain - VIDEOEmbedded video
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"The Mountain" existed as a duo piano work first. It was commissioned by the legendary composer/pianist Frederic Rzewski and his long time collaborator, pianist Ursula Oppens. After several performances of the duo version, I realized that this work has a symphonic conception, and worked on scoring it into a symphonic work. During the composition of “the Mountain”, I reread Gao Xingjian’s novel Soul Mountain. It was this experience, which brought me new ideas, stemming ironically from my memories of my native home. Sichuan, China is a place rich with folklore and colorful cuisine. The dialect in Sichuan is my mother tongue and its melodic inflection is full of expressivity and humor. My melodic style in "The Mountain" is intrinsically connected to the sound of this spoken intonation.
In Gao Xingjian's novel, folk stories and shamanistic rituals play a colorful part in the largely stream-of-consciousness style narrative. Triggering my imagination and accessing deeply buried memories, I began to hear sounds that I couldn't otherwise hear. Other memories also emerged – seeing peasants carrying heavy loads of rice and vegetables on steep mountain paths. I associate this particular image with the Passacaglia/fugue section in the center of the composition. The mood of "The Mountain" is nostalgic, though it is not short of dramatic moments as well.
The orchestral writing in this work often switches back and forth from the chamber-music like delicacy to full orchestral resonance. This reflects the different dimensions of the mountains: that of the Taoist temples often found in these mountains in Sichuan, and that of the immensity of nature.
– Gao Ping
23 Mar 2013: Christchurch Symphony Orchestra - FIREBIRD