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Presence of China
in Frédéric Rossille's works

Cécile Duchamp - October 15 2010

A tribute to He Luting

Historical note

He Luting (1903-1999) has composed 'Song of the Four Seasons' in 1937 for the film 'Street Angel' by Yuan Muzhi. The song was performed by the prestigious singer and actress Zhou Xuan. In 1965, during the Cultural Revolution, He Luting has defended the music of Claude Debussy in a famous TV broadcast. The concert hall of the Shanghaï Conservatory of Music is today called the He Luting concert hall.

An inspiring melody

In 1992, Frédéric Rossille listened for the first time to the 'Song of the Four Seasons' sung a cappella by two of his Chinese friends Xiaolei Ru and Weihua Wu. He Luting's melody and Tian Han's nostalgic lyrics evoked immediately in him all the mysteries of an ancestral and daydreamed China.

At that time the composer wrote an arrangement of the song for traditional and electronic instruments. Then he recorded it according to the two singers vocal range. This recording was soon broadcasted on 'Nankin Popular radio' and in the 'Concert du weekend' program of China Radio International under the aegis of UNESCO. The recording was published in 1993 on the compact-disc 'Sur la Colline Magique'.

Some years later, this melody is still engraved in Frédéric Rossille's mind and heart. It finds today a new translation with an instrumental version. Frederic Rossille has choosen to perform it at the piano, without any writing or instrumentation trick so as to give free expression to everybody's imagination.

Although piano music is recent in China (thank to the Alexandre Tchérépnine's influence), this noteworthy neutral instrument is certainly the medium of choice to express the essence of this magnificent melody.

Technical note

Frédéric Rossille has listen only to the melodic line of the "Song of the Four Seasons'. Perfectly respecting this line, his harmonies and arrangement are characteristic of his own style. As for the introduction, the central part and the coda, they are totally the fruits of his imagination.

Listen to 'Once Upon A Time In China'  

China has inspired Frederic Rossille with many other compositions
  • Good Morning Mr. Shanghaï (Ocean Song)
  • Ylang-Ylang (Ocean Song)
  • Tibetan Prelude (Ocean Song)
  • Jokhang Festivities (Secret Garden)
  • Lhasa (Geometrical Games)
  • Tibetan Rhapsody (Three Pieces For Trio)
  • Poesia (Three Pieces For Trio)
  • Légende de Shanghaï (Sur la Colline Magique)
  • Chanson des Quatre Saisons (Sur la Colline Magique)
  • Shanghaï Passionata (Sur la Colline Magique)


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