LEI LIANG (b.1972): Song Recollections, DANA WILSON (b.1946): 8 Hungarian Folk Songs, WEI-CHIEH LIN (b.1982): 4 Taiwanese Folk Songs, BÉLA BARTÓK (1881-1945): String Quartet No. 4, Sz. 91.
Catalogue Number: 01U062
Description: This engaging disc explores the folk musics from two insular, much-invaded countries from the extreme opposite ends of the Asian continent. The fascinating booklet note expounds on the geographical-historical-musicological justification for the project; the music complements this by being instantly approachable and enjoyable, hugely varied and characterful. Bartók is rightly acknowledged as an important founder of folk music preservation and integration into concert music, but the three contemporary composers featured here have taken different approaches. Wilson took authentic Hungarian folk music and reinvented it in terms of the string quartet, evoking and even imitating the sounds of percussion, voice and dance that were vital components of folk performance tradition, alongside the whole-tone scales, characteristic rhythms an the ubiquitous 'gypsy violin'. The results, with slow introductions and riotously vigorous dances, bagpipe drones and snap pizzicati 'percussion', are brilliant transcriptions with a real sense of authenticity. Lei Liang achieves a similar result, through rather different means, with the very different folk melodies of Taiwanese aboriginal tribes. This music is conceived more in terms of the timbres and textures of the contemporary quartet; although flageolet tones and microtonal inflections betray its folk origins, it could also be taken for a particularly approachable palette of modern quartet writing for the concert hall; atmospheric, mysterious and timeless. Wei-Chieh Lin's transcriptions of lovely melodies of composed examples of the folk tradition that have entered modern Taiwanese culture are on the lighter side; one could imagine Grainger doing something like this with this material. Formosa Quartet.