Sharon Bezaly / Yiu-Kwong Chung / Taipei Chinese Orchestra

Whirling Dance

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The young Israeli-Swedish flutist Sharon Bezaly is both daring and prolific, issuing disc after disc on Sweden's BIS label devoted to unfamiliar virtuoso music and nailing it almost every time. Here she enters the nascent field of cross-cultural concert music. With its Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon-like cover photo, this is perhaps an especially risky endeavor, but Bezaly pulls it off in fine style. The notes (in English, Chinese, German, and French) give plenty of information about the music, but it would have been nice to hear a little about how Bezaly and the Taipei Chinese Orchestra assembled the program. Presumably conductor Chung Yiu-Kwong deserves at least some of the credit, for the selection of music avoids the monotony that sometimes plagues releases of this sort and showcases Bezaly's considerable skills from a variety of perspectives. The key is that the Chinese compositions represent a variety of types, from semi-traditional (The Thivats of Autumn, track 5, which is one of several pieces using a small Chinese ensemble in place of the "Chinese orchestra" helpfully explained in a separate English-language note) to popular melodies (Longing for the Spring Breeze, track 10), to full-fledged contemporary attempts to bridge the gap between East and West. The two works by conductor Chung at the beginning of the program fall into this category, and they're worth the purchase price all by themselves as harbingers of a world in which concert music is increasingly often marked by the inclusion of Asian elements. Bezaly, playing a piccolo in the Bamboo Flute Concerto of Ma Shui-Long (tracks 6-8), is lively and confident throughout in difficult music that was completely new to her. BIS engineers, operating in a likewise unfamiliar Taiwanese concert hall, deliver their usual impressive results. An exciting, even groundbreaking disc of music for soloist and orchestra.

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