Lim

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Lim
LABELS: Hat
WORKS: The Heart’s Ear; Veil
PERFORMER: Ensemble für Neue Musik Zürich
CATALOGUE NO: ART 148
The booklet notes describe Liza Lim as belonging to ‘a new class of composers’ creating a non-Eurocentric form of new music, and her work is implicitly presented here as radical exotica, subverting the traditions of Western music from within. This seems a little far-fetched given that, while her background as an Australian Asian clearly gives her a refreshingly different perspective, her academic background is rooted in the ‘Eurocentric’ tradition. Fortunately, the music manages to emerge from the mythologising which obscures it, but this doesn’t make it easy listening. The Western element is aggressively modern in, as it were, a resolutely old-fashioned, post-Boulez way, while the Asian influences include non-Western intonations and, just occasionally, some tantalising melodic fragments. Be warned, though: this is contemporary music of the most uncompromising (and uncompromised) kind. Lim is clearly uninterested in the reacceptance of conventional tonality in recent music, so any listener who is not at ease with both quasi-serialist severity and non-Western art music may find this jagged, angular stuff, with its improbable harmonic structures and switchback dynamics, to be rather hard going. While the Ensemble handles the music with obvious expertise and total conviction, and the recording is lucid but with a pleasing warmth, this disc is really for devotees rather than dilettantes. Roger Thomas

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