Shih- Hui Chen: Returning Souls

Composer(s): Shih-Hui Chen
Album Title: Shih- Hui Chen: Returning Souls 
Cat. No.: 80746
Genre: Classical / Contemporary
Release Date: 08/2013
Description: Cho-Liang Lin, violin soloist/Leone Buyse, flute; Robert Schulz, percussion; Bion Tsang, cello/Timothy Jones, baritone; Leone Buyse, flute; Michael Webster, clarinet; Nuiko Wadden, harp; Matthew McClung, percussion; Timothy Peters, violin; Norman Fischer, cello; Kevin Noe, conductor/Formosa Quartet/Norman Fischer, narrator; Leone Buyse, flute; Michael Webster, clarinet; Jeanne Kierman Fischer, piano & narrator; Brandon Bell, percussion; Ben Odhner, violin; Coleman Itzkoff, cello; David Cho, conductor

"Among the composers of Asian descent living in the U.S.A., Shih-Hui Chen is most successful in balancing the very refined spectral traditions of the East with the polyphonic practice of Western art-music.  In a seamless narrative, her beautiful music, always highly inventive and expressive, is immediately as appealing as it is demanding and memorable." 
                                        -American Academy of Arts and Letters

The five compositions by Shih-Hui Chen (b. 1962) on this recording can be considered variations of an "ethnic style": they reflect her experiences of being able to return to Taiwan for a year in 2010 as a Fulbright Scholar specifically to study its music. Particular Chinese/Taiwanese myths and ideas stand behind these compositions. Melodies and instrumental techniques, topics and texts, and the use of Chinese musical structures such as heterophony, and the peculiar stretta effects which can be seen both in terms of metric as well as in terms of sonic arrangements, are all elements that can be explained as derived from Chinese and Taiwanese musical practice. Each of the pieces revolves around a small number of notes and motifs which are continually reinterpreted. The compositions feature colorful sounds and they exemplify Chen's particular predilection for effective timbres, for the potent qualities of "noise" as well as of "silence" as part of a comprehensive musical whole. Not unlike many other composers of Chinese descent, who consider it important to express their "Chineseness" in music, Chen employs this style to great effect. 

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