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Caprice No. 2 Jeokbyeok

for viola and piano

Caprice is a solo series composed based on collaboration with a specific string player. The piece reflects the composer’s impression of the artistry and the personality of the performer. Caprice No. 2 ‘Jeokbyeok’ was written for and dedicated to violist Hwayoon Lee who learnt the Pansori in her childhood.


Pansori is a unique form of Korean traditional music in the opera genre. It is known for its distinctive rhythm, vocal timbre, key, and texture. The Pansori ‘Jeokbyeokga’ is a Korean retelling of the Chinese legend of the Battle of Red Cliffs. 


The expression, vocalization and tuning system of the Korean Pansori is entirely different from western classical music. I tried to reflect the character of the Pansori through transforming its unique melodic, recitative contour into the modern virtuosity of the viola. In this Caprice, I selected one of the scenes of the Pansori ‘Jeokbyeokga’; the portrayal of ordinary, nameless soldiers, who lament their unfortunate lot in life as they face what is likely to be their deaths in battle.


It is recommended that performers study or at least listen to the Pansori ‘Jeokbyeokga’ before learning this Caprice, particularly the way of making ornaments by grace notes, different types of vibratos and glissandis as well as the microtonal nuance of the pitches in melodies. (Shinuh Lee)

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