Bring on the wine
for voice and piano (2017), 2:30’
Text by 白居易 (Bái Jūyì a.k.a. Po Chü-i)
adapted by james r. murphy
“Bring On The Wine” is a setting for voice and piano of a four-quatrain verse by T'ang dynasty poet Bai Juyi (a.k.a. Po Chü-I or more properly, 樂天) in an English version by james r. murphy, who has created personalized versions of literally thousands of classical Chinese poems including five volumes devoted to Bai Juyi’s poetry. I chose this poem because since it was written expressly for a Chinese New Year’s Concert of the Cheah Chan Duo, something celebratory seemed most appropriate. The poem’s theme, about drinking multiple cups of “wine” (actually the drink Bai Juyi was referencing is closer to sake), was the key to my musical realization of it. Although it is strictly pentatonic, as are so many Westernized "faux-Chinese" art songs, the rhythms and registers are somewhat more complex. In the second half of the setting (to connote drunkenness), the left and right hand of the piano accompaniment are a quarter of a beat out of sync with each other, and the singer’s intervals get wider and wider as the song progresses.