Various Artists

Kawai Shiu: Unassuming Music

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It's difficult to get a sense of these pieces from the title "unassuming music," or even from the booklet, which offers the puzzling characterization of composer Kawai Shiu as "an internationally recognized artist whose interests and achievements explore the essence of music embodied as sound, composition, performance, and thought." The vigorous textures of the opening La corale de una mano alberto, a piano work for the right hand alone, are hardly unassuming. That opening work, however, may serve as a good introduction to the rest of the music on the album. Shiu, a Hong Kong native who has been active in his homeland, Britain, and the U.S., is interested in exploring the capabilities of solo instruments (and in one less successful case the voice), generally without recourse to extended techniques, which Shiu sarcastically refers to as "overextended" technique. The works on unassuming music, sparse and generally avoiding any reference to a tonal center, are often organized around gestures and their interaction with clearly defined registers. They are intricate and do not always give the general listener a clear point of entry. Probably these pieces are of most interest to those in the composer's orbit and to those who closely follow solo instrumental music.

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