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Chou Wen-chung: Clouds

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - James Manheim
After several decades of more sentimental East-West fusions generally consisting of details from one of the traditions pasted on to the basic structure of the other, the Chinese-Western fusion music of Chou Wen-Chung, difficult but productive of a whole stream of new ideas, still sounds good. Chou has remained quite active in old age; the most recent work here, "Twilight Colors," was composed in 2007. As usual with Chou, all the music consists of Western procedures, in the basic language of Chou's mentor, Edgard Var?se, put into Chinese aesthetic molds. The Chinese ideas here are primarily pictorial; the composer indicates that the "String Quartet No. 1 Clouds," from ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - James Manheim
After several decades of more sentimental East-West fusions generally consisting of details from one of the traditions pasted on to the basic structure of the other, the Chinese-Western fusion music of Chou Wen-Chung, difficult but productive of a whole stream of new ideas, still sounds good. Chou has remained quite active in old age; the most recent work here, "Twilight Colors," was composed in 2007. As usual with Chou, all the music consists of Western procedures, in the basic language of Chou's mentor, Edgard Varèse, put into Chinese aesthetic molds. The Chinese ideas here are primarily pictorial; the composer indicates that the "String Quartet No. 1 Clouds," from 1996, refers in its title to "the quality shared by cloud formations and calligraphy: the continual process of change." The work is in a five-movement arch shape and would make a good if dense pairing with Bartók's fourth or fifth quartet. As with Bartók's later music, all three works here add large elements of counterpoint to the composer's basic style. "Twilight Colors," for string and wind trios, represents the classical American landscape of a sunset over the Hudson River but is tightly wound into a series of contrapuntal structures. The "String Quartet No. 2 Streams" is the most contrapuntal of all, with movement titles that reflect those of Bach's "Art of the Fugue," but the contrapuntal forms are modulated through a transformation process akin to "seeing one's face undulating in a running brook or rippling pond." This is difficult music, but Chou's genius is that the Chinese aesthetic models he chooses are basic and resonant enough to lead the listener into the difficulties. The Brentano String Quartet has a proven track record in these pieces, and the Academy of Arts and Letters in New York may be the leading U.S. venue for hardcore chamber music. There are easier Chou pieces to grasp, such as those that elaborate the Chinese "single-note" idea, but this makes a reasonable introduction to his music.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 8/30/2011
  • Label: Mode
  • UPC: 764593023524
  • Catalog Number: 235
  • Sales rank: 54,672

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Brentano String Quartet Primary Artist
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