The poems that in 1908 inspired Mahler to Das Lied von der Erde had been printed a year earlier in Hans Bethge's Die chinesische Flöte ('The Chinese Flute'). But they had already before that travelled huge distances in both time and space. Hans Bethge's poems were in fact paraphrases of Hans Hellmann's 1905 collection Chinesische Lyrik, which itself was based on French translations of 8th century Tang dynasty poems. The Hongkong-based enthusiast Daniel Ng has now, through untiring research, established the most likely sources of Bethge's poems, and prepared a Chinese Song of the Earth, replacing the German texts with the original Chinese poems. The result, soon to be published, has been recorded with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra conducted by Lan Shui, and the Chinese-born international stars Ning Liang and Warren Mok singing the texts by Li Bai, Wang Wei and other Tang master poets. During their long-standing collaboration, the SSO and Lan Shui have been tireless in promoting Chinese and Asian composers, an undertaking that on disc has born fruit in recordings of works by Zhou Long, Chen Yi and Bright Sheng. The team's imaginative approach to programming has also resulted in discs such as the recent Seascapes, with sea-depictions by among others Frank Bridge and Debussy. This release was greeted warmly by the reviewers, and the SSO/Shui interpretation of La mer was described as 'an unequivocally world-class performance' in the BBC Music Magazine. Now, with the present disc, another masterpiece from the early 20th century gets the Singapore treatment!
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