TAN DUN (b.1957): Paper Concerto for Water Percussion and Orchestra.
Catalogue Number: 10L111
Label: Opus Arte
Reference: OA 1014 D
Description: A companion to the above, and performed in the same festival, this piece exhaustively explores the potential of water as a musical instrument. As usual with this composer, the theatrical aspect of the performance is important; the piece begins with the principal soloist out among the audience playing a waterphone - bowed resonant metal rods attached to a metal gourd containing water - and approaching the stage making swimming motions; at the beginning of the last movement he moves around the stage, ending up at a xylophone, played conventionally. Lighting is also important, with the reflections from the two large bowls of water in front of each soloist an integral part of their performance. Extended passages have the orchestra providing an ambient backdrop for rhythmic splashing and slapping on the surface of the water; elsewhere some extended techniques are employed - mouthpieces without their instruments etc. The evocation of natural sounds is certainly intended - whale sounds and birds as well as the literal sounds made by rain, waves and river waters. The third movement introduces the most extended and conventional orchestral material, suggesting Chinese folk melodies in orchestral guise, the 'alternative percussion' here in a supporting role. The lively finale - starting with the soloist on xylophone, then walking back to his water instruments - is an exercise in jazzy rhythm, interrupted by a final, amorphous, liquid cadenza for the soloists and extended noise textures from the orchestra. Filmed with plenty of close-ups of the principal soloist (who has several visually entertaining 'cadenzas' further to justify this approach, emphasizing the play of light and water rather better than the audience would have seen it. Two short documentaries include rehearsal footage and demonstration by the percussion soloist; the composer explaining his philosophy of water music, and footage of Chinese village life and landscape that inspired him. He also explains and demonstrates the 'water instruments', both for producing water sounds and modifying the pitch and timbre of struck metallic objects. David Cossin, Rika Fujii, Tamao Inano (percussion), Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra; Tan Dun. 16:9 widescreen. 5.1 Dolby Surround or 2.1 Dolby Digital. NTSC Region 0. 87 min.