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Tan Dun: Ghost Opera / Wu Man, Kronos Quartet

Release Date: 03/18/1997 
Label:  Nonesuch   Catalog #: 79445   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Tan Dun
Performer:  John SherbaHank DuttWu ManDavid Harrington,   ... 
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kronos Quartet
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 36 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

For Tan Dun's Ghost Opera, the Kronos Quartet had their instrumental abilities stretched to include various percussion, wind instruments, and vocals and were joined by pipa virtuoso Wu Man. The first sound one hears is a hand being drawn through a bowl of water. Soon, strains of Bach appear, accompanied by the pipa, an ancient Chinese lute, and the voiced prayer of a monk. Bach figures into much of the work, in fact, as if being played by a traveling string quartet making their way through back-country China. The piece slides comfortably between these areas, the strings sometimes taking on an Asian character that compliments the Baroque allusions in an oddly effective manner. The music is generally soft in nature with, aside from the Bach, Read more frequent references to Chinese folk songs of a pastoral quality. It's almost lulling at times, though there's enough subtlety of detail to keep the attentive listener engaged. Those who only cottoned to Tan Dun after his success several years after this recording, with the soundtrack to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, should enjoy this carefully considered, meditative piece.

-- Brian Olewnick, AllMusic.com


Written by Chinese composer Tan Dun, Ghost Opera is a dramatic five-movement composition for string quartet and pipa—with vocalizations and percussive effects from water, metal, stone, and paper, performed by Kronos and Wu Man. The composition explores human spirituality, employing elements from Chinese, Tibetan, English, and American cultures, as well as a multitude of theatrical traditions. “Remarkable,” said the Los Angeles Times of the piece. “In this broad-minded, culture-bending opus, shards of Bach, Shakespeare, a bright pentatonic palette of Chinese origin and such sonic exotica as the water gong find peaceful and poignant coexistence.” Read less

Works on This Recording

Ghost Opera by Tan Dun
Performer:  John Sherba (Cymbals), Hank Dutt (Cymbals), Hank Dutt (Gong),
Wu Man (Soprano), Wu Man (Voice), Wu Man (Gong),
Wu Man (Bells), David Harrington (Violin), David Harrington (Gong),
David Harrington (Voice), David Harrington (Lute), Wu Man (Tamtam),
David Harrington (Cymbals), John Sherba (Violin), John Sherba (Voice),
John Sherba (Whistle), John Sherba (Lute), John Sherba (Gong),
Hank Dutt (Viola), Hank Dutt (Voice), Joan Jeanrenaud (Voice),
Wu Man (Pipa), Joan Jeanrenaud (Cello), Joan Jeanrenaud (Gong)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kronos Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1994 
Date of Recording: 01/1996 
Venue:  Skywalker Ranch, Nicasio, California 
Length: 35 Minutes 46 Secs. 
Notes: Wu Man and the members of the Kronos Quartet utilize water bowls, metal, stones and paper in this performance. 

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