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Ecstatic Drumbeats / Evelyn Glennie, Taipei Chinese Orchestra

Glennie / Taipei Chinese Orchestra / Chung
Release Date: 06/19/2012 
Label:  Bis   Catalog #: 1599  
Composer:  Yiu-Kwong ChungKeiko AbeNebojsa Jovan ZivkovicToshiro Mayuzumi
Performer:  Evelyn GlennieTsung-hsin HsiehTzu-you Lin
Conductor:  En ShaoYiu-Kwong Chung
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taipei Chinese Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Length: 1 Hours 15 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

ECSTATIC DRUMBEAT Evelyn Glennie 1-5 , Tsung-Hsin Hsieh (perc 2 ); En Shao 1,5 , Yiu-Kwong Chung, cond; 2-4 Taipei Chinese O; 1-3,5 Tzu-You Lin (suona 4 ) BIS SACD-1599 (SACD: 75:10)

Read more class="COMPOSER12">YIU-KWONG CHUNG 1 Concerto for Percussion and Chinese Orchestra. 2 Emperor Qin Crushing the Battle Formations. ABE 3 Prism Rhapsody. ŽIVKOVI? 4 Born to Beat Wild. MAYUZUMI 5 Xylophone Concertino

This is the fourth in BIS’s series of discs in which the Taipei Chinese Orchestra is paired with prominent Western soloists. Its predecessors featured saxophonist Claude Delangle ( Harmonious Breath ), flutist Sharon Bezaly ( Whirling Dance ), and trombonist Christian Lindberg ( Trombone Fantasy ). The Taipei Chinese Orchestra of Taiwan resembles Western orchestras in the sense that it has four sections, but the string section is divided into bowed strings and plucked strings, and there are no brass instruments. Its general director is Yiu-Kwong Chung, who wrote two of the works on the present disc, and two on each of the previous discs as well. Evelyn Glennie needs no introduction, I believe, and it is good to see her remaining active and in demand by record companies some two decades after the initial flurry of interest in her musicianship.

This disc is a lot of fun, and challenging. Yiu-Kwong Chung is a real composer, in the classical sense, and his contributions are the most striking and memorable. His three-movement Concerto is based on three contemporary Taiwanese poems by Qing (Sonia) Huang. The moody first movement contrasts Glennie’s snare drums with the softer sounds of the Chinese orchestra. In the melodic second movement, whose mood is more relaxed, Glennie moves to the marimba, and its liquid sounds are complemented by the orchestra’s plucked and bowed strings. The last movement is a thrilling tour de force in which Glennie performs on 11 drums (!), but the orchestra matches her energy, and her range of interesting and exciting timbres. It’s hard to imagine a sensitive listener not getting worked up over this Concerto. Emperor Qin Crushing the Battle Formations , which closes the disc, is a blend of traditional themes from the Tang dynasty and Yiu-Kwong Chung’s original material. A second percussionist is added in this work. My appreciation for it would be even stronger if I were certain where the old leaves off and the new begins, but I responded to its testosterone, and to its ritualistic atmosphere.

Keiko Abe’s Prism Rhapsody was composed for marimba and orchestra; here, the orchestral part has been adapted for Chinese orchestra by Yiu-Kwong Chung. I feel that the Chinese orchestra (what is making the sound like that of a toy piano?) overwhelms the marimba, not just in volume, but also in interest. It’s not an equal contest, although Abe’s music contains many interesting ideas. Toshiro Mayuzumi’s Concertino for Xylophone and Orchestra also is played in an arrangement for Chinese orchestra (here, the arrangement is by Simon Kong Su Leong), but the xylophone’s more assertive timbre allows it to keep up with the Chinese orchestra. It is in three short movements, and the last of these, marked Presto , is so delightfully manic that it might have served as the soundtrack for a forgotten Loony Tunes cartoon.

Just to keep this disc from becoming formulaic (not that that was a real danger), it also contains a work by Neboj?a Jovan Živkovi?, who was born in modern-day Serbia. Born to Beat Wild is scored for bass drum (played by Glennie) and suona, an instrument described as the “Chinese oboe.” The shawm-like suona wails and keens and screeches; its sound is not for the faint-hearted, but it is undeniably exciting. Together, the suona and the bass drum make a racket that will give any heavy metal band pause.

I’m in no position to criticize the playing of the Taipei Chinese Orchestra with any intelligence, but I love the sounds these musicians make, and the crispness of their execution. Glennie remains a marvel—remember that she is deaf—and I respect her even more for having become involved in this unusual project, when she could have rested on her laurels. The supporting soloists are very fine too. Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t laud BIS’s engineering, which comfortably encompasses the music’s delicacy, spectacle, and violence. Am I ecstatic about Ecstatic Drumbeat ? You bet—I’ll bang the drum loudly for anyone who will listen!

FANFARE: Raymond Tuttle
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Works on This Recording

Concerto for Percussion and Chinese Orchestra by Yiu-Kwong Chung
Performer:  Evelyn Glennie (Percussion)
Conductor:  En Shao,  Yiu-Kwong Chung
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taipei Chinese Orchestra
Emperor Qin Crushing the Battle Formation by Yiu-Kwong Chung
Performer:  Evelyn Glennie (Percussion), Tsung-hsin Hsieh (Percussion)
Conductor:  En Shao,  Yiu-Kwong Chung
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taipei Chinese Orchestra
Prism Rhapsody II by Keiko Abe
Performer:  Evelyn Glennie (Percussion)
Conductor:  En Shao,  Yiu-Kwong Chung
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taipei Chinese Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1989; Japan 
Born to Beat Wild, for suono & percussion, Op. 30 by Nebojsa Jovan Zivkovic
Performer:  Evelyn Glennie (Percussion), Tzu-you Lin (Suona)
Conductor:  En Shao,  Yiu-Kwong Chung
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taipei Chinese Orchestra
Period: Contemporary 
Concertino for Xylophone by Toshiro Mayuzumi
Performer:  Evelyn Glennie (Percussion)
Conductor:  En Shao,  Yiu-Kwong Chung
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taipei Chinese Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1965; Japan 

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