Zhou Zhi-Yong

The Great Yellow River

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There's very little modern Chinese music available - and if more of it's as good and inventive as this, then that's a shame. While rooted in tradition, Zhou Zhi-Yong is a very forward looking composer, not afraid to mix the electric and acoustic elements in his work, with the addition of plenty of vocal work, as on "Vast Desert," where all the parts, including what sounds like a saxophone, come together for a piece where the tension increases second by second, never finding release; a metaphor for the desert itself. In many ways it's the vocals that carry much of the music here, such as the unexpected harmonies and sonorities on "Beauty," or the lulling female singer on "Misty Hills." While evoking the past, and using some traditional instruments such as the erhu, Zhi-Yong doesn't view it as some golden age. But like the Yellow River itself, which has nurtured Chinese civilization for centuries, time flows from the past into the future. Amd so the lush choral and orchestral work of "Golden Yellow" works as well as the electronic evocations of "Source," or the pastoral shakahuchi on "Bank." A writer of substance and supreme style, Zhi-Yong represents the new China very well in all its facets, and shows himself to be an important global composer. Few, anywhere in the world, are creating work with similarly fertile imaginations.

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