top of page

A Retrospect

Instrumentation: Soprano, Mezzo-soprano and Piano

Duration: ca. 5'

Lyricist: Chi Hu(崔護)

Language: Mandarin Chinese

Composition Date: 2013.03

Première Date: 2022.02.13


Première Artists: Madison Hoerbelt (Soprano), Gina O'Sullivan (Soprano) and Harris Andersen (Piano)


Other Version(s): For 4-part mixed chorus (S.A.T.B.)/3-part female chorus (S.S.A.)

Remark: The female choral version of this piece has been selected to present in the International Society of Contemporary Music (ISCM) World Music Day (2014) held in Wrocław, Poland. 

Sample Recording (start from 1:03:40):

Text in Original Language:



Programme Notes:

On this day last year what a party were we

Pink cheeks and pink peach-blossoms smiled upon me;

But alas the pink cheeks are now far far away,

Through the peach-blossoms smile as they smiled on that day.

Translated by Herbert Allen Giles, Late Professor of Chinese (University of Cambridge)


A Retrospect is a Chinese art song based on the Tang poem by Hu Chi, it is about the incident which the poet fell in love with a beautiful young girl. She captivated him while he asked for water at her house in a forest of peach blossoms. After a year, the poet missed his lover and went to visit her again. However, she has already perished while the landscape is as bloomy as last year, an intense contrast. Miraculously, the girl woke up upon his arrival.

Regarding the setting of the text, the economy of words in Chinese places a main obstacle for any attempt of the musical setting to re-capture the boundless mood hidden beneath. To make possible this adequation between the duration of the music and the emotional scope of the words, melismas are set to match the normal utterance of the text with the music. As a result, music is composed as a sound world which aims to suggest rather than to state, to sketch rather to paint.

bottom of page