The inspiration behind this short, four-movement suite, came from the Chung family, who are originally from Hong Kong, but settled in Plymouth. Their three ’children’ are each very musical, and fine pianists. Isaac is the youngest, and I have dedicated this suite to him, and he gave the first public performance of the whole work in April 2003. The title of each of the four movements is self-explanatory, although I had better just say that the final piece, ’Dragon City’ happened also to be the same as that of their Takeaway Restaurant, not that I was advertising, of course!
Isaac is now studying Medicine, and his sisters are an engineer and accountant respectively, so they have done really well in real life, too! The attached picture shows him as a prizewinner at Plymouth Music Festival, when he was in the early years at grammar school - incidentally my old school, too - DHS Boys!
This opens the Chinese Dragon Suite. It’s a bright and breezy little number suggesting this more ancient and traditional mode of transport in a bustling Chinese town – the regular quaver / eighth-note pattern in the left hand could suggest the pedalling of the ‘driver’. Basically in ternary form, with a repeat, and with a more sonorous middle section, where the left hand has its own chance to ‘sing’, there’s even a little bit of hand-crossing at the end!
The second piece of the Chinese Dragon Suite, this is a quiet and contemplative number, where the melody is set against repeated chords, sometimes in the right hand, sometimes in the bass, with the right hand crossing over, and also together in octaves. Balance between melody and accompaniment is something to be aware of here.
Junks in the Harbour
Rippling arpeggios and hands crossing over lead to a serene picture of boats in the harbour, with the gentle 6/8 beat adding to the overall calmness of the picture - the third piece in the Suite.
Named after the Chungs’ former Chinese takeaway, the essentially ‘poppy’ beat is supposed to suggest the busy venue and its coming and goings, while the bare fifths emphasize the exotic nature, and, in particular, the name of the takeaway itself, and the importance of the dragon in Chinese culture – it rounded the original suite off with some aplomb!
Each piece is also available separately under its individual title.