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Free Translations of Li Ch'ing Chao: For Soprano, Clarinet, and Piano
  • Free Translations of Li Ch'ing Chao: For Soprano, Clarinet, and Piano


    Free Translations of Li Ch'ing Chao: Three Musical Settings for Soprano, Clarinet, and Piano


    A song cycle on three poems of Li Ch'ing Chao, translated by Dr. Luke Taylor. 

    "beautiful and affecting"

    – American Record Guide

    "Repetitive piano figurations ebb and flow across each movement, expressing each stage of life eloquently. “Old Age” creates a particularly effective emotional shift with dark and openly voiced piano chords."

    – The Clarinet Journal (International Clarinet Association)

    I. Youth

    Not yet sixteen I left my childhood swing
    My big hands hanging lazily at my sides Sweat stains the cotton of my Summer dress: Dew bows the nodding heads of flowers.

    And when he comes I run away in fright
    My socks slip down and my hairpin falls -
    But at the gate I turn back, I turn back:
    Turn and smell these green and unpicked plums.

    II. Middle Age

    After the day’s heat, evening wind, Rain washes away the blaze.
    After the crescendo, quiet:
    In the mirror I powder my cheek.

    Beneath red silk, the skin is white, Snow and cream, touch and feel,
    I smile at this stranger: my love, Tonight, inside the curtains of our bed The pillow and mat will be cool.

    III. Old Age

    Year after year, drunk in the snow,
    We filled our hair with plum blossoms, Then shredded them wantonly,
    Let them fall on our clothes like tears.

    This year at the Middle Kingdom’s edge, My thin hair is streaked with white. Night comes, wind cries:
    And now our plum blossoms have gone.


    Soprano, clarinet, and piano


    15 minutes


    I. Youth

    II. Middle Age

    III. Old Age


    West Meets East (Albany Records)



    Commissioned by Dr. Jun Qian. Dedicated to Meredith Achey and Laudon Schuett on the occasion of their wedding.

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