BELL COLLABORATES WITH THE SINGAPORE CHINESE ORCHESTRA ON THE BELOVED BUTTERFLY LOVERS VIOLIN CONCERTO ADAPTED FOR AN ORCHESTRA OF TRADITIONAL CHINESE INSTRUMENTS
GRAMMY® Award-winning violinist Joshua Bell’s recording Butterfly Lovers features one of the most renowned works in the Chinese classical violin repertoire, the Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto. Recorded with the Singapore Chinese Orchestra (SCO) and conducted by Tsung Yeh, the work is a distinctive adaptation for an ensemble of traditional Chinese instruments. The new Sony Classical album is available everywhere now. Accompanying today’s album release is the video for the seventh movement (Adagio Cantabile) from the Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto – listen here.
The recording also features Bell as soloist in three popular Western Romantic works for violin and orchestra, all specifically arranged to be performed with the SCO’s virtuosic ensemble of Chinese instruments.
“I’m thrilled to have worked with the incredible Singapore Chinese Orchestra and Maestro Tsung Yeh on this recording, which includes the Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto as its centerpiece,” Joshua Bell says. “It was a joy to collaborate with the SCO musicians, who brought this work to life through the expressive sounds of the traditional Chinese instruments.”
Inspired by a hauntingly romantic Chinese legend, the concerto was written in 1959 by Chen Gang and He Zhanhao. The original version, richly scored for a full Western symphonic orchestra, has achieved global popularity. For this recording, Bell performed an adaptation of the work by Yang Hui Chang and Ku Lap-Man for an orchestra of traditional instruments.
“The music beautifully describes the classic Butterfly Lovers story, featuring themes of romance, star-crossed lovers, and friendship,” Bell adds.
The concerto, in seven concise but evocative movements, recounts the ancient Chinese legend of the youthful “butterfly lovers,” a story as passionate and star-crossed as that of Romeo and Juliet. The new arrangement for Chinese orchestra lends the concerto an authentic clarity of sound and a timeless atmosphere, in which Bell’s violin becomes a poignant voice telling and inhabiting a story of tragic but transcendent love.
“Joshua has brought his own unique interpretation to this world-famous masterwork,” conductor Tsung Yeh says, calling their collaboration “a beautiful and emotional musical journey.”
“My favorite parts of this recording are the more soulful, soft passages,” he adds. “I can actually hear the sighing and sobbing from his violin.”
Bell says, “We have also included three classics of the violin repertoire from 19th-century Europe – works by Sarasate, Saint-Saens and Massenet – making it a truly multicultural project.”
Those three classics – Sarasate’s “Ziguenerweisen,” Saint-Saëns’ Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso in A Minor; and Massenet’s “Méditation” from Thaïs – are also heard in distinctive arrangements for Chinese orchestra.
Bell and Yeh first performed together at the beginning of Bell’s career in 1989, following Yeh’s appointment as music director of Indiana’s South Bend Symphony Orchestra. Bell was the soloist for one of Yeh’s very first concerts.
“As an American, I feel so privileged to have been given this opportunity,” Bell says of the new recording, “and I find it fitting that we have recorded this in Singapore, a historically important setting that bridges East and West.”
Bell hopes to share the Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto with American audiences during the 2024-25 concert season.
JOSHUA BELL – BUTTERFLY LOVERS – JUNE 30, 2023
1. Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto: I. Adagio Cantabile (Chen Gang / Zhanhao He)
2. Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto: II. Allegro (Chen Gang / Zhanhao He)
3. Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto: III. Adagio Assai Doloroso (Chen Gang / Zhanhao He)
4. Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto: IV. Pesante – Piu mosso – Duramente (Chen Gang / Zhanhao He)
5. Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto: V. Lagrimoso (Chen Gang / Zhanhao He)
6. Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto: VI. Presto resoluto (Chen Gang / Zhanhao He)
7. Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto: VII. Adagio Cantabile (Chen Gang / Zhanhao He)
8. Introduction et rondo capriccioso in A minor, Op. 28 (Camille Saint-Saëns)
9. “Méditation” from Thaïs (Jules Massenet)
10. Zigeunerweisen, Op. 20 (Pablo de Sarasate)
ABOUT JOSHUA BELL
With a career spanning almost four decades, GRAMMY® Award-winning violinist Joshua Bell is one of the most celebrated artists of his era. Bell has performed with virtually every major orchestra in the world and continues to maintain engagements as soloist, recitalist, chamber musician, conductor, and Music Director of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields.
Sony Music Masterworks comprises Masterworks, Sony Classical, Milan Records, XXIM Records, and Masterworks Broadway imprints. For email updates and information please visit www.sonymusicmasterworks.com/.
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