Sheng

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Sheng
LABELS: BIS
WORKS: Flute Moon; China Dreams; Postcards
PERFORMER: Sharon Bezaly (flute, piccolo); Singapore SO/Lan Shui
CATALOGUE NO: CD-1122
Bright Sheng is a Chinese composer of the same generation as Tan Dun, though not as well-known in the UK as in the USA, where he has lived since 1982. His ambitions are on a more modest scale than Tan’s, and more focused: where Tan goes for the big, multi-cultural theatrical gesture, Sheng is more concerned with a synthesis between Chinese and Western music. There’s some of the rhythmic energy of Bartók, whose example he acknowledges, as well as echoes of Copland and Vaughan Williams – in fact, I’m sure that I heard a direct lift at one point, but perhaps that’s inevitable with pentatonic melodic material. Three pieces in a row is too much, though, and the same ground is very well trodden by the end of the CD. Once you’ve heard the relentless pounding of the first movement of Flute Moon and the dreamy swooping strings of the second, you know pretty well what you’re in for in the other two pieces – both four-movement suites that use genuine folk material to express nostalgia for the China which Sheng left behind. But there’s excellent playing from the soloist, and from the orchestra, who display both guts and sensitivity. Martin Cotton

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