Sheng Miscellaneous Works
The name of Bright Sheng may be familiar to some readers as the man who stepped in to orchestrate Leonard Bernstein's Arias and Barcarolles when the composer/conductor began to sense that time was running out. In fact, Sheng's own music has been making quite an impact in the USA where he settled in 1982 after experiencing the horrors of the Chinese Cultural Revolution as well as the subsequent stop-go liberalization. It was Bernstein who assured him that Western music could incorporate Eastern culture and that all music—whether Haydn or Mahler—was 'fusion'. If the Bernstein influence is felt directly in
If the rest of this New World programme is considerably less intense, the music is arguably the better for it. The stream flows for solo violin weaves eminently Chinese-sounding melodies into a Bartokian framework with impressive naturalness. The material reappears in the third of Three Chinese Love Songs—a delicate, ravishing set which echoes Ravel as much as any recent model. Finally, My song, a four-movement piano suite written for Peter Serkin in 1988, shows Sheng again bridging East and West but responding in a more conventional way to what will work pianistically. All this music is exquisitely wrought, superbly played, and recorded with real sensitivity. The New World packaging is excellent.