Klassik Heute 10/10/10; BBC Music Magazine: outstanding.
When BIS released Oriental Landscapes (BIS-CD-1222) with Evelyn Glennie as percussion soloist, several reviewers remarked upon the work Out of Tang Court by Zhou Long (b. 1953). The BBC Music Magazine called it “a rich evocation of Chinese ceremonial music – a grand processional, mesmerising in its reiterations” while Classical Music Web styled it “a subtle and delicate piece of music of great beauty.”
Featured this year at the BBC Proms with the world première of his orchestral work The Immortal, Zhou Long is internationally recognized for creating a unique body of music that brings together the æsthetic concepts and musical elements of East and West. In several of his works he returns to the culture of the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907), but in his re-creation of eighth-century China, the composer makes claims only for personal, not historical, authenticity. ‘The Tang Dynasty has no surviving music’, he admits, ‘but the literature of the period has many detailed descriptions of how the music sounded, and the lyrical language of the poetry itself already suggests music.’ One example of Zhou Long’s approach is Poems from Tang (1995), a concerto for string quartet and orchestra in four movements. In The Rhyme of Taigu (2003), Zhou explores Tang dynasty Sino-Japanese exchange by resurrecting the ancient Chinese taigu percussion tradition that later evolved into Japanese taiko drumming. Percussion also plays a prominent rôle in Da Qu (1990-91), whose title comes from an ancient form of court music utilizing song and dance. In The Future of Fire (2003) a more recent chapter in Chinese history has provided the inspiration. In the work Zhou Long depicts his memories of farmers burning off dried grass to prepare the land for planting, scenes that he witnessed while deported to the countryside during the Cultural Revolution.
This varied and exciting programme was recorded in the presence of the composer by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra under Lan Shui, a team represented in the BIS catalogue by 12 previous CDs, including the previously mentioned Oriental Landscapes as well as a highly acclaimed survey of the orchestral music by Alexander Tcherepnin.
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