Songs from Our Ancestors

Songs from Our Ancestors

by Ian Bostridge


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Will the increasing importance of China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong as classical music markets lead to more collaborations like the one here between English tenor Ian Bostridge and Chinese guitarist Xuefei Yang? It could be a desirable thing if so. The collaboration has already resulted in an album of music by Britten, but there's an added element here: Songs from Our Ancestors marks the debut of England's Globe Music label, named for Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, but using the acoustically superior Sam Wanamaker Theatre next door. Honestly, you could buy Songs from Our Ancestors just for Yang's arrangement of a Ming Dynasty guqin piece for the guitar ("Flowing Water"). Sample this and luxuriate in the understated adaptations of Chinese materials for the guitar, and in the extraordinary, magical acoustics Yang and the engineers are able to produce. The title Songs from Our Ancestors isn't very accurate; most of the music is contemporary, and the dutiful Renaissance English work, a set of Dowland songs, is given by Bostridge with a bit too much tension. He settles down in a set of Schubert songs; the text of one, "An die Musik," is mysteriously skipped in the booklet, but Schubert is known to have experimented with performances of his songs for voice and guitar, and one suspects he would have enjoyed these pieces enormously. The Chinese side of the album also ventures into contemporary territory with a work by Chinese-American composer Chen Yi. The two sides are joined at the end in a cycle of songs by Stephen Goss to Chinese texts, here translated into English, an elegant bit of programming. Any number of pieces here are interesting, but the real accomplishment is that a project that could have been merely exotic instead seems natural; the players have a real rapport. Recommended.

Product Details

Release Date: 01/06/2017
Label: Globe
UPC: 0724120140261
catalogNumber: 001
Rank: 95090


  1. The Book of Songs, for tenor & guitar
  2. Shuo Chang, for guitar

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