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Lantern Street

Samuel HoffmanLantern Street

From the liner notes: In Peking, the pad, pad of coolie steps sound up Lantern Street, a street of wondrous rhythm. Along the street, a color-symphony of lanterns glows in blue, lilac, carmin and jade. Tinkling glasses attached to the lanterns whisper, deep gongs, fairy-like flutes and small chine-bells fill the air. The coolie moves past two merchants, a newsboy, a pair of lovers, an impetuous soldier, a boy and his father, and an angry policeman. In even tempo his steps pad on through the color and gaiety and brilliance of this romantic street.

On a Flower Boat

Samuel HoffmanOn a Flower Boat

From the liner notes: Amid the flutes, the tinkling bells and the soft lutes, voices are heard behind discreetly drawn curtains. A whispering matron greets callers at the pleasure boat, and introduces a sing-song girl, who offers a love-song. Another woman offers a jade plate piled with delicacies. In the dusky light of a kang a woman prepares an opium pipe for the caller. The voice of the sing-song girl is joined by others, blending and fading in the soft lights and colors and sounds, confusing reality in the rich atmosphere of the Pleasure Boat, the Flower Boat of Chinese Dreams.

Pigeon Serenade

Samuel HoffmanPigeon Serenade

From the liner notes: An old farmer sits carying tiny flutes for his pigeons, flutes of gourd and bamboo which he ties to the birds’ legs so that in flight they make music. From nearby farms, whole families come to watch and listen – the children laugh with pleasure. Later, the pigeons return to rest and the farmer pets them, calling each by a favored name. The pigeons fly off again, making new harmonies and cadenzas with their tiny flutes.

The Rape of Nanking

Samuel HoffmanThe Rape of Nanking

From the liner notes: Night. December 13, 1937. Nanking is raging in battle. Women left the maelstrom tremble with fear. Outside the room, a command to halt is heard, and a child calls out: The Japanese are here! In a rush, the crowd tries to escape, but some are too late. Trapped, a group of women return to the room and lock themselves in. A soldier pounds at the dooor, and then crashes through, followed by others. One girl nearly escapes, but a soldier blocks her way. Amid the uproar and screams, he thrusts at her with his bayonet. Night, December 13, 1937.

Yellow River

Samuel HoffmanYellow River

From the liner notes: The Yangtze gleams and curl away from the docks as coolies carry the heavy cargo. Among their cries are heard ancient chants of farewell from the fishermen of a nearby sampan. The boat slips from its dock and heads upriver amid a rush and pattern of color, passing ancient pagodas framed by fruit tree blossoms, the tiny farms. As the riverbed narrows, coolies work with poles to direct the boat through the pass. The trackers, heavy ropes wound about their bodies, pull the boat through the rapids, singing a wailing melody. The river whirls in pools or fashins, boiling, breaking, foaming. A captain of a passing boat shouts a greeting. Caught up in the atmosphere are the secrets of the three River Gods, their images painted in many places, to guard against the evil spirits of the Yellow River.