BBC Music Magazine

Tan Dun


Violin Concertos: Rhapsody and Fantasia; Fire Ritual Eldbjørg Hemsing (violin); Oslo Philharmon­ic Orchestra/ Tan Dun

BIS BIS-2406 (hybrid CD/SACD) 62:37 mins

Described by The New York Times as a ‘rock star of the modern music scene’, Tan Dun has made waves with his vibrant, theatrical and complex works. Dun’s scores often fuse Chinese musical traditions with contempora­ry Western compositio­n and his evocative writing for strings has won the composer rich accolades (including an Oscar for the score, featuring Yo-yo Ma, to Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon). This excellent disc of violin concertos showcases Dun’s dexterity and imaginatio­n in writing for the instrument and features radiant and sophistica­ted performanc­es from the violinist Eldbjørg ★emsing, for whom Dun originally composed these two works.

The disc opens with the exhilarati­ng Rhapsody and Fantasia which was completed in 2018 but draws on sketches that date back to 1987 when Dun first arrived in New York. The concerto’s first movement divides between pulsating rhythm and passages of near-mahlerian elegy, while the second movement, ‘A Dream out of Peking Opera’, cleverly evokes the soundworld of Chinese opera with a ‘jing hu’ fiddle theme. Dun explores every inch of the solo violin with a depth of imaginatio­n that calls to mind Berg’s groundbrea­king concerto for the instrument, and performanc­es from both ★emsing and the Oslo Philharmon­ic are every bit as accomplish­ed as Dun’s compelling score.

Fire Ritual (2018), subtitled ‘a music ritual for the Victims of

War’, also draws on the composer’s Chinese heritage, here exploring the shamanisti­c rituals of rural ★unan where Dun grew up. Soaring but never schmaltzy, the concerto blends the fierce and the meditative, and is performed with integrity and precision by ★emsing to complete this fine disc. Kate Wakeling PERFORMANC­E ★★★★ RECORDING ★★★★

 ??  ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom