Sui · Gong
The two-word title of Ming Wang’s recent composition points to the early Sui dynasty of China (581–618 CE) and its imperial court (Gong). The work is based on a touching piece of old Chinese music which, in a series of short picturesque scenes, tells a tale of yearning, love and passion within the Sui court’s harem. The pure pentatonicism of the part assigned to the medieval flute contrasts strongly with the total chromaticism and great virtuosity of the extremely complicated part for modern flutes, creating a striking balance between simplicity and complexity, nostalgia and modernity.
Structurally, the piece adopts the traditional Chinese musical form known as 套曲 (Suite), which consists of many short sections that all end similarly (合尾).
Several important melodies, played mostly on the medieval flute, are stated, then varied and ornamented (加花), while the contrasting part for the modern flutes features a twelve-note row derived from the original melody and involves intricate playing techniques.
The piece is dedicated to Walter Auer, principal flautist of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, and his wife Julia.