The three composers represented on this disc are all resident in the USA, but have their roots across the Pacific Ocean, in China. Philosophical, musical and literary aspects of this Chinese heritage are in evidence in the works recorded here. Zhou Long has composed his Five Elements inspired by the traditional Chinese concept of the five ‘elemental energies’ (wu xing): metal, wood, water, fire and earth. In Zhou Long’s flute concerto each element is represented in a separate movement in which the activities of yin and yang are manifested as cyclic changes of nature regulating life on earth. For The Deep, Deep Sea, his shorter, single-movement work, Zhou Long found the title in a poem by the Chinese poet Li Bai (701–762 A.D.), exploring the metaphor of a sea voyage under difficult circumstances. A later poet, Jiang Kui of the Song Dynasty, has provided Bright Sheng with the inspiration for the second movement of his two-movement work, Flute Moon, while the first movement, entitled Chi-Lin’s Dance, features the mythical Chinese unicorn. The closing work on the disc is Chen Yi’s The Golden Flute, a concerto in three movements, in which the stated aim of the composer has been ‘to let a Western flute speak in the language of Chinese wind instruments, such as the dizi made from bamboo and the xun made from clay.’ In order to do so, she has turned to Chinese traditional music, adopting typical variational techniques as well as drawing on folk tunes. The soloist in these fascinating works is Sharon Bezaly, whose musicianship has inspired a succession of composers to write works for her, including the present ones by Zhou Long and Chen Yi. She is provided with expert support by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra under Lan Shui, a team which is dedicated to performing works by Asian composers, when not making acclaimed recordings of standard repertoire by Rachmaninov or Debussy.
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