Tan Dun

BBC Music Magazine - - Reviews -

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 ★★★★

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