First Los Angeles Philharmonic performance: November 18, 2022, Xian Zhang conducting
About this Piece
“There is a Chinese proverb that says when a man is uprooted, he gains vital force. If he remains stationary, he cannot flourish. Renewal of his surroundings brings new opportunities; whatever changes there may be, large or small, are always experienced like a great rebirth.
Still, while this brings hope and excitement, change also means separation from the immediate environment, and from family and friends. It is this sense of distancing, or estrangement, that is described in the peasant song from northwest China, “Zou Xi Kou” (Going beyond the western gorges). A love-song upon the departure of a beloved one, plaintive and nostalgic, its melody is used in L’Éloignement because it retains a basic simplicity and because it gives the composer the possibility to express therein his own estrangement.
Laid out as a rondo with variations, L’Éloignement depicts separation, disorder, imagination, and yearning. The music is both happy and sad, nostalgic and exciting, all of which account for the conflicting moods of the departing one.” —Qigang Chen