Friday, August 13, 2010

Tan Dun is one of the most renowned Chinese contemporary composers in both his home country and abroad. He is a multi-talented musician, whose compositions emanate a unique shamanistic aura. His orchestral pieces combine both traditional Chinese and Western instruments with some unconventional sound sources such as water, paper or teapots. His Zheng Concerto (1999) is written for the zheng, an ancient Chinese plucked instrument, something like a zither and something like a harp, with extraordinary capabilities for bending and quartering tones. Watch a performance with zheng virtuoso Yuan Li and the strings of the WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln with Tan Dun conducting . . . one of this week's FEATURED NEW MUSIC VIDEOS.

Bob Briggs, of MusicWeb International writes, "It says much for the strength of Barbara Harbach’s work that she has created vocal music which builds on the two great American composers for the voice – Ned Rorem, who has probably done more for vocal music in the past sixty years than anyone, and Aaron Copland, whose 12 Poems of Emily Dickinson might just be the greatest American composition for voice and piano – yet manages to find her own truly American sound. As I have said before, when I have had the great pleasure to report on the previous four CDs of her music, she has forged a voice which is all her own, yet speaks clearly in the American vernacular. Don’t miss this disk for it is something very, very special". Read more, and hear excerpts from this MSR Recording . . . it's this week's FEATURED RECORDING.

American composer Ernst Bacon's collection Places (1962) consists of 10 short pieces for solo piano. Contemporary and accessible, they are suitable for performing pianists, piano students of varying levels, and piano teachers looking for new music. Many of the compositions included in Places were inspired by Bacon's world travels to lesser known geographic locations. Listen to a performance of one of the "Places" - Gnaw Bone, Indiana - played by pianist Madeline Salocks . . . one of this week's PYTHEAS EARFULS.

Jean Langlais, born in the village of La Fontenelle in 1907, was one of the most important French musicians of the 20th century. An organist and composer of international renown, his music is known and loved throughout the world, and in 2007 his centenary was celebrated in places as far afield as the USA, Estonia, Spain, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy and the United Kingdom. He composed his Cinq Pièces (Five Pieces) for violin and organ in 1974. Watch a performance of the first of these pieces performed by the Duo Tolkien, Alessio Benvenuti, violin, and Marco Lo Muscioviolinist, organ . . . this week's FROM THE PYTHEAS ARCHIVES.

Explore, Listen and Enjoy!
Vinny Fuerst
Pytheas Center for Contemporary Music

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