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Stephen Brown: Compositions

Chinese Love Lyrics

A seven song cycle for soprano and piano. Text based upon Chinese poetry from 314 to 1685. Tells the story of the deterioration of a human soul over a year's time due to unrequited love. Premier Birch Performing Theatre, Capilano College, North Vancouver, B.C., March 18,1997. Catherine Lewis soprano, Robert Holliston piano.

Subsequent performance The Young Building Auditorium, Camonsun College, Victoria, B.C. as part of the VCM's Faculty Chamber Music Series. Performers same as above. Further performances elsewhere.

"Haunting and evocative, with long, architectural vocal phrases partnered by a descriptive piano line" Naomi Lester, Victoria News Group.

Duration: 24 minutes

View Fading in the Springtime (song No. 5):
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Swan House Victoria SJB 1354

Chinese Love Lyrics

The Jewel

On my flute of ebony I played to you
the most impassioned songs that I know,
But your eyes followed the flight of pigeons
and you would not listen.

I gave you a poem in which I praised your beauty,
but you tore it up,
throwing the pieces on the waters of the lake,
because, as you said,
there were no lotus petals there.

I would have given you a wondrous jewel,
limpid and cold as a winter's night,
but I keep it
because it is like your heart.

Wan Tsi c. 314?, translator: Alan Simms Lee

The Lost Flute

In long black lines the wild geese cross the sky.
In the trees one sees the deserted nests.
Winter heaviness seems to have settled upon the mountains.

Close to my fountain I found your flute of jade
which you lost last summer.
The tall grass had screened it from our searching.
But now the grass is dead and the flute
lay glistening in the sun.

I have been thinking of our love
which has lain buried so long
under our scruples.

Chang Wu-chien 1879 - ?, translator: Gertrude L. Joerissen

Like the Moon

Like the moon in the blue heavens,
I am alone in my room.
I have put out the light
and I am weeping.

I weep because you are so away,
and because you will never know
how much I love you.

Wu-Hao c. 628?, translator: Gertrude L. Joerissen

The Breath of Spring

The breath of spring is everywhere,
in every face.
The mimosa casts its delicate shadows...
my dreams are butterflies...
the fragrance of the quince intoxicates like wine.

But I pluck the willow of sorrow.
A gulf divides us,
and there is no bridge of birds
to carry me across.

I weep alone before my silver lamp
and I grow frail, a slender beauty.
When shall we share a night like this
a spring night like this,
and meet together under the full moon.

Anonymous, translator: Peter Rudolph

Fading in the Springtime

The careful know of hair lies low
upon my neck.
My long and narrow eyebrows
are painted skillfully.

Yet, watching...
your thoughts are wondering afar...
in this season of a hundred flowers,
I grow thin and pale.

Weng T'ing-chun c. 850?, translator: Peter Rudolph

The Peach Tress Were Flowering

The weather is getting cold...
The wine lies like poison on my heart...
On the window beats the rain.

The fading fragrance of cut flowers,
simulates, the feeling of autumn.
Courage, courage I say to my heart,
but tears have stolen into my blue gown.

Longing for my love,
keeps me raw in defiance of the wine...
Hopeless, alone, I lie on my bed.

I remember when you left me,
peach trees were flowering...
willows waving tender locks.

My gown stained wet with tears.
Grief consumes me.
When can my sorrow end.

Nalan Hsin-teh 1655 - 1685, translator Teresa Li

The Garden of Golden Valley

The splendid glories of the past
have been crushed into fragrant dust.
The stream flows indifferently,
and the grass keeps spring to its self.

At sunset, the singing birds lament,
the passing of the east wind.
Falling flowers recall the pretty one...
The falling flowers recall the pretty one who threw herself from a high balcony.

Tu Mu 803- 852, translator: Teresa Li

Text assembled and arranged by Stephen Brown