Quigang Chen: Extase; San Xiao; Yuan; L’Eloignement

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Quigang Chen
LABELS: Virgin
ALBUM TITLE: Quigang Chen
WORKS: Extase; San Xiao; Yuan; L’Eloignement
PERFORMER: Jean-Louis Capezzali (oboe); Zhang Weiliang (flutes); Chen Yihan (pipa); Changg Jing (zheng); Zhao Chengwei (sanxian); Ensemble Hua Xia/Tsung Yeh; Radio France PO/Leonard Slatkin, Yves Prin
CATALOGUE NO: 344 6932
Like many Chinese composers of his generation, Quigang Chen had his education disrupted by confinement and ‘ideological re-education’. The Cultural Revolution condemned composers for using elements of traditional music as well as for assimilating ideas from the European avant-garde. Chen’s music has the strength that comes from enduring and outliving such repression, and from an organic, unforced melding of two contrasting cultures. When attitudes began to liberalise he gained admission to Beijing’s Central Conservatory and from 1984-88 was able to study under Messiaen in Paris. The exciting Yuan dates from this period.

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I was tremendously impressed with Virgin’s previous album of Chen’s music (Virgin 545 5492). This is every bit its equal, showcasing Chen’s assured sense of structure and development in four works of considerable dramatic power and wit. His command of orchestral colour and texture never falters, and is never better displayed than in Extase. The solo part, brilliantly realised by Jean-Louis Capezzali, demonstrates what a thrilling, versatile yet underused instrument the oboe is, and there is marvellous scoring for trumpets, too. Barry Witherden