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Tan Dun: Water Concerto / Cossin, Fujii, Inano

Dun / Cossin / Fujii / Inano / Royal Stockholm Po
Release Date: 09/29/2009 
Label:  Opus Arte   Catalog #: 1014  
Composer:  Tan Dun
Performer:  Rika FujiiDavid CossinTamao Inano
Conductor:  Tan Dun
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Recorded live at the Stockholm International Composer's Festival, Stockholm Concert Hall on 8 November 2007.

- Short film: Water: The Tears of Nature
- Tan Dun teaches water instruments

Picture format: NTSC 16:9 anamorphic (Concert and Short Film) / 4:3 (Demonstrations)
Sound format: Dolby Stereo / Dolby Surround 5.1
Region code: 0 (all regions)
Menu language: English
Subtitles (extra features): English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Chinese
Running time: 67 mins
No. of DVDs: 1


Read more class="COMPOSER12">TAN Paper Concerto & Tan Dun, cond; Royal Stockholm PO; Haruka Fujii (paper perc); Rika Fujii (paper perc); Tamao Inano (paper perc)
OPUS ARTE 1013 (DVD: 81:10) Live: Stockholm 11/8/2007

& “Paper: The Song of Nature.” Tan Dun demonstrates paper music and teaches paper instruments

TAN Water Concerto & Tan Dun, cond; Royal Stockholm PO; David Cossin (water perc); Rika Fujii (water perc); Tamao Inano (water perc) OPUS ARTE 1014 (DVD: 66:56) Live: Stockholm 11/8/2007

& “Water: The Tears of Nature.” Tan Dun teaches water instruments

In earlier works, such as his Ghost Opera (1994) for string quartet and pipa, Water Passion after St. Matthew (2000), and the Concerto for Cello, Video, and Orchestra, “The Map,” (2002), Chinese-born composer Tan Dun has used stones, paper, and water as percussion instruments. He has explained in various documentaries (including those contained in these releases) how, as a child, he discovered their sound-making potential—from women washing clothes in the river, and village shamans who played stones and paper made from bamboo as part of their rituals—but now fears that such experiences are disappearing with the passage of time. In order to preserve these traditions and revive their particular sonorities and symbolism, he has devised an extensive catalog of techniques that he demonstrates in the enclosed programs—crumpling, rattling, tearing, beating, and blowing on paper; dripping, pouring, punching, slapping, and blowing onto and into water. Subtle degrees of timbre and texture result, ranging from almost inaudible nuances to thunderous explosions. Equally important to Tan is the visual spectacle that accompanies the sound-producing procedures, which he exploits to full effect in these two recent compositions.

The performances of both of these engaging concertos were filmed by Swedish Television at the same concert in November 2007. The camera angles, close-ups, lighting, and editing all contribute to a deeper understanding of the music, which is theatrical in nature and carefully choreographed by the composer. That is to say, whether it is the kodo-style drumming on the huge sheets of paper hung from high above the orchestra or the shadows and silhouettes projected upon them, the altered pitch of cymbals as they are dipped into transparent bowls of water, or the percussionists’ hands darting through the water like fish, Tan emphasizes the ritualistic aspect of performance as much as the purely musical, and is aware that our ears alone most likely could not distinguish the source or the rarified details of these unfamiliar and evocative sounds without seeing how they are produced. On CD, the music would lose much of its impact (see my review of the Water Passion after St. Matthew , in Fanfare 26:5); it must be seen as well as heard.

Musically speaking, I prefer Water Concerto . While the variety of solo instruments in Paper Concerto is fascinating—from sheets of different sizes for whistling on and manipulating to paper cymbals, cardboard boxes, and hollow tubes—and provides plenty of tonal surprises, the orchestral component radiates more atmospheric accompaniment than cohesive drama. In Water Concerto , the orchestral interaction with the soloists offers not only more substantial melodic interest in the dance episodes and imposing fanfares, but also suggests a symbolic ecological storyline, with wind whispers and distant animal cries introduced by the bowed waterphone, bird sounds in the wind instruments and brass mouthpieces, waterfalls and rain implied by the drips and dribbles, and an evocation of whale songs in the duet for dipped cymbals and solo cello. But both performances—and their accompanying documentary footage—are fascinating.

FANFARE: Art Lange
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Works on This Recording

Water Concerto by Tan Dun
Performer:  Rika Fujii (Water Percussion), David Cossin (Water Percussion), Tamao Inano (Water Percussion)
Conductor:  Tan Dun
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Date of Recording: 11/08/2007 
Venue:  Stockholm International Composer's Festi 

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