XIAOGANG YE (b.1954): Symphony No. 3 “Chu”, Op. 46, The Last Paradise for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 24.
Catalogue Number: 06R011
Description: After graduating from the Beijing Conservatory of Music, Ye studied in the USA with a diverse group of high-profile Western composers with little in common other than that they all stop more or less short of embracing the avant garde - Schwantner, Adler, Andriessen among others. Much of his music is deeply attached to Chinese culture. The large, impressive symphony, named for an ancient province noted for its craftsmanship and culture, bears traces of all these influences. The work is best described, very broadly, as neo-romantic, in its rich orchestral textures and harmony based firmly on tonal centers, but there is no sense of the socialist-realist pastiche that afflicts some Chinese composers embracing the Western idiom. Rather, this feels like a thoroughly integrated personal style grounded in the various traditions of his teachers, into which traditional Chinese instruments (five of them, plus various percussion including some very impressive gongs and bells in the fifth movement 'Bronze') are seamlessly added, enhancing the heightened sense of orchestral color and never sounding like a gratuitous attempt at cultural cross-over. Brash, aggressive motoric rhythms, sumptuous orchestral color, and a broad symphonic sweep unite the seven tone-poem-like movements depicting aspects of the culture, philosophy, natural splendour and ancient rituals of the region in a compelling panorama. Like many intellectuals, Ye suffered in the Cultural Revolution, and The Last Paradise, a tone poem with solo violin as protagonist, depicts the struggles of the individual against adversity and eventual release in death. The work is very tonal, though the orchestra's assaults on the initially folk-like, increasingly passionate soloist are cumulatively strident and dissonant, until they are dismissed by a final rhythmic processional over which the violin soars ever higher like the soul finally released. Cho-Liang Lin (violin), Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; José Serebrier.