Xiaogang Ye: Symphony No. 3 'Chu'; The Last Paradise

José Serebrier / Cho-Liang Lin / Hila Plitmann / Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

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Xiaogang Ye: Symphony No. 3 'Chu'; The Last Paradise Review

by Blair Sanderson

Ye Xiaogang is one of China's leading composers of orchestral music. In this 2016 BIS release by José Serebrier and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Symphony No. 3, "Chu" and the concert piece for violin and orchestra The Last Paradise show Ye's skillful blending of Chinese music with Western symphonic conventions. The symphony was composed to mark the tenth anniversary of the Wuhan Orchestra, and is an evocation of ancient Chu culture and the province of Hubei, of which Wuhan is the capital. The seven-movement work is a tour de force of orchestration, with a strong emphasis on Chinese percussion and such traditional instruments as the di, the pipa, the xiao, the sheng, and the erhu, along with a wordless soprano part sung by Hila Plitmann. The Last Paradise, a somber meditation on suffering and the release death brings, is a single-movement tone poem that features violinist Cho-Liang Lin as the soloist. The music is intensely virtuosic, resembling a violin concerto in its brilliance and difficulty, though the orchestral writing is a match for the violin part at every step. Serebrier and the orchestra deliver vivid and exciting performances that are enhanced by BIS' superb digital sound, though Ye's vibrant music would have been served better in a multichannel recording.

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