(Recorded 2009, Published 2010)
All pieces arranged by King’s Harmonica Quintet except track 9.
Total timing: 62’56”
Distributed by Modern Audio Limited
40-page programme booklet, 37 photos
This CD is a recording that has been longing for by many people for a long time. The King’s Harmonica Quintet, as the definitive harmonica group in the contemporary world, is praised not only by numerous harmonica players and enthusiasts in the world, but also musicians and audiences at large. With its unique sounds and repertoire, performed by excellent coordination and balance, KHQ could always let the listeners’ heartstrings resonate and experience the beauty and artistry of harmonica ensemble playing that one may have never encountered before.
It has been more than a decade since the last time KHQ produced a CD of its own. There’s no doubt that every member of the group has been elevated in experience, ability and thoughts. The maturity in the past ten years has brought KHQ with greater success and achievements. Despite the harsh environment for continuous development of chamber music in the modern society, KHQ strives to be outstandingly active, and remains as the oldest chamber group in Hong Kong. Moreover, KHQ has been at the centre stage of the one-after-another record-breaking and history-making with its energetic activities since the turn of new millennium. The collaboration of KHQ with philharmonic orchestra and large Chinese instrumental ensemble is a shimmering crystal to reflect its artistic glory, but there’s no limit for a brighter future with the unlimited pursuit of excellence.
Living in the same time and space with the gentlemen of KHQ, I am lucky as a composer to join their voyage in transforming the musical culture of the harmonica into its new age. Ten years ago, I started working with them on the three world premiere scores for the 2000 Hong Kong Arts Festival in which UK’s Arditti Quartet was to play my second string quartet as well. The one-of-a-kind performance of KHQ was so satisfying and I could foresee the much greater areas in cultivating for the harmonica ensemble. It is my honour to receive commissions continuously from this high quality group with a global non-stop itinerary, and every new idea comes up from my mind has been lively realized by KHQ. That kind of joy within the heart of a composer is not often shared with other ordinary musicians. The extraordinary practice of commissioning various composers by KHQ is surpassing in the practice of musical arts in our time.
I can see that KHQ is getting busier every year. As a group aims for the best uncompromisingly, this production is particularly precious and meaningful although only a part of their fruitful output is selected within the confined capacity of a CD. The summertime this year should be the right time for the birth of this selection to turn a new page in KHQ’s musical career. While writing these lines, the latest score I am preparing for KHQ’s proud return to the Hong Kong Arts Festival is in progress. The restless enthusiasm in performance, mentoring younger generations and seeking for breakthrough by the King’s Harmonica Quintet is a powerful drive for me to continue in composing for the wonderful group and the wonderful free-reed instrument. Having the several hundred minutes of harmonica music I have written before, I can still find it so interesting and exploratory to write more and more.
HUI Cheung Wai