Zhou: Rhymes / Lan Shui, Singapore So, Et Al
What impresses most about these four works are the breadth of orchestral colors Zhou manipulates, and how the musical drama grows directly out of those colors. The four Poems from Tang, for example, are purely instrumental evocations of Tang Dynasty (AD 618–907) poems (printed in English translation in the booklet), where sounds of nature as well as intimations of mist, clouds, flames, and dreams emerge within fugitive rustling, burbling, and murmuring timbres, in contrast with full ensemble passages reminiscent of Stravinsky’s orchestral palette in The Firebird. Moreover, the rhythmic insistence of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring appears to have influenced Zhou in the remaining works; in The Rhyme of Taigu an expanded percussion section not only adds haunting colors and textures but provides an energetic, repetitious rhythmic impetus, and Da Qu, which isolates Jonathan Fox’s bells, vibraphone, and gongs against an orchestra that threatens to erupt from tranquil to volatile, near chaotic, expression in the blink of an eye, is even more exotic and vibrant. (Note to solo percussionists and adventurous orchestras: this work has great audience-wowing potential.) Even the brief transformation of a Shaanxi love song, mixed with Zhou’s recollection of farmers burning their fields, in The Future of Fire builds to thunderous Rite-like climaxes.
BIS’s engineering captures the wide dynamic range of the music vividly, and conductor Lan Shui and the Singapore musicians present everything in the best possible light.
Art Lange, FANFARE
Catalog Number: BIS-CD-1322
Composer: Zhou Long
Conductor: Lan Shui
Orchestra/Ensemble: Philharmonic Chamber Choir, Shanghai String Quartet, Singapore Symphony Orchestra
Performer: Jonathan Fox