Song of Guangling 廣陵散

a composition for piano by Li Cheong in 2005, based on a Chinese Qin tunes
Nancy Loo, piano


Score (PDF)
Recording (MP3)

The Song of Guang-ling is originally a traditional piece written for guqin, the seven string zither. Guqin is often regarded as an instrument of the literati in the ancient China. While most guqin music are calm, gentle and meditative, the Song of Guangling is exceptionally vigorous and dramatic. The story of the piece was about the assassination of a noble during the Warrior State period of China. The score of the piece was published in Shen Qi Mi Pu (1425 A.D.) in the Ming dynasty, yet the earliest record of the piece can be dated back to the Han Dynasty (25-220A.D.)

This piano piece is a modern approach to the ancient theme. It is not a direct transcription, but a reconstruction of the theme with a tint of modern western harmony. While guqin is more capable to elaborate on a single line melody with various kinds of vibrato and sliding tone, piano is more capable for playing chords. Modern western harmonies influenced by Messiaen and Stravinsky are added to the original melody to display a greater variety of tone colour.


今存《廣陵散》曲譜,最早見於明代朱權編印的《神奇祕譜》(1425年),譜中有關於「刺韓」、「沖冠」、「發怒」、「投劍」等內容的分段小標題, 所以古來琴曲家即把《廣陵散》與《聶政刺韓王》看作是異曲同名,內容描寫戰國時代鑄劍工匠之子聶政為報殺父之仇,刺死韓王,然后自殺的悲壯故事。現在最常聽到的版本是管平湖根據《神奇祕譜》修訂的。


將古琴曲改編給西洋樂器,並不是一件新鮮事,自從二十世紀中國開始西化以後,中國有不少作曲家都曾嘗試將古琴曲改編,例如王建中的《梅花三弄》,周文中的 《漁歌》、陳其鋼的《梅花》和香港作曲家林樂培的《春江花月夜》等等。他們有些將中國的旋律配上西方的和聲,有些則著重模仿古琴的音色,有些則利用原曲的素材再創作。


Suite for Piano Four Hands

written in 1999-2003
I. Allegro – Meno mosso – Allegro con moto
II. Andante – Poco con moto
III. Allegro – Andante – Tempo primo

Third movement premiered by Alfred WONG (piano primo), LI Cheong (piano secondo)
Macau APA, May 2001

Whole suite premiered by CHU Hang Chun (piano primo) and LI Cheong (piano secundo)
on 18 Feb 2003
Lee Hysan Concert Hall, CUHK
Composition Concert 2003

Score (PDF): All movements

Recording (MP3): 1st movement, 2nd movement, 3rd movement

(Program Notes by Alfred WONG)

The writing of this piano suite spanned through various stages of composer’s adolescence, yet the suite was in a coherent style. It also displays the composer’s creative mind of writing music.

The first movement was written around secondary six and seven. The modal writing and the characterized augmented fourth oscillations suggest an image of music from Middle East. After the free elaboration of the theme in meno mosso, the music suddenly drives to an exciting ending.

In the second movement, the music begins with a Gregorian-chant like melody followed by a long polyphonic section. It came in composer’s mind for long when he studied medieval music history in first year of music study, though it is not realized on paper until now. The theme is derived from the 3rd movement, in which the theme is also modal. There is no meter in general, and some dotted barlines are used to indicate entrance points. Later the music comes to a 6/8-time. Composer said that perhaps he wants to imitate the style of medieval music, both sacred and secular. The Gregorian chant reappears at the end and leads to the third movement.

The final movement was written in year one around 1999 to 2000. It is highly rhythmic with frequent meter changes, perhaps influenced by Bela Bartok. It was premiered in School of Music, Macau Conservatory in summer of 2001 by Alfred Wong and Li Cheong at the piano. The middle section of this movement of the current version the has been revised.



第二樂章以歐洲中世紀的葛利果聖歌風格的旋律開始,緊接著多線條的段落。作曲者在一年級修讀中世紀音樂史時已萌生創作此曲的念頭,但到了今年才把它譜寫出來。主題是從第三樂章演變出來的,也是以調式作為探索的方向。樂曲沒有固定的拍子,在樂譜上亦只以虛線提示樂句的進入。在樂曲中段卻有一段6/8 拍子的段落,也許作曲者想把中世紀宗教樂和世俗音樂的風格都混在一起。樂曲回到開首的葛利果聖歌作為終結,將音樂引領到第三樂章。


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Extinguish 熄滅

written in 2000
LI Cheong, Piano
Lee Hysan Concert Hall, CUHK
Bauhinia Concert (Oct, 2001)


Score (PDF)
Recording (MP3)

This piano piece is written during July and August 2000. This piece is much improvisatory in its content. Unrelated, fragmented themes are often juxtaposed successively. Phrases are often incomplete, interrupted by sudden switch of mood. Two extremes of emotions are prevailing in the piece: one is violent, despairing and frustrating; the other is nostalgic and sorrowful. A heavy cluster is played with arms at the end, symbolizing the extinguished hope.


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