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Kuan Nai-Chung*, (translated from Chinese)
Audiophite Magazine, March 1999

"Poems Of Thunder is a recording that undoubtedly reaches a higher level of artistic dexterity in percussion music than most other drumming CDs that are only produced for the sake of showing off mastery in digital recording sound. Whether it is Beijing Opera ('Deep Night'), Xian drum music ('Duck's Quarrel'), or Cantonese music ('A Lion That Has Just Woken'), all the compositions truly express the distinctive artistic personality of Yim Hok-Man, while touching the hearts of loyal music lovers. Mr. Yim exerts his musical power rhythmically, yet with ease and full of emotions. In terms of his technique in playing the drum, he has a master's control in sound and power over his playing's gentleness, intensity, slowness or speed according to his will.

In 'Poem of Chinese Drum', the thundering bang of the drum is overwhelming. When the multitude of percussion start to ring out in 'Triumphal Return of Fishing Boats', the music is not merely exceptional in sound, it was as if a spectacular golden beam of light is piercing through these all-enveloping sonic aura of the music. Furthermore, Mr. Yim not only has learned well from his mentors in his pervious international performances of this particular piece, he has demonstrated a continuous and consistent effort to find new nuances to perfect the song while retaining the primitive spirit of the original score.

The difference between Mr. Yim and other percussion masters lies in his knowledge and skills in playing all traditional Chinese and western percussion instruments, as well as his search for artistic perfection in the realm of percussion music.

His astonishing performances are a most accomplished set of work of rhythmic playing and interpretation. He sees his percussion instruments as real musical instruments, ones that can create rich sound quality; a medium that can convey his personal feelings and unleash his deepest thoughts. The noise he conjures from his drums are as song-like as strings, as rigourous as the pluck of a guitar and as warm as a woodwind.Poems Of Thunder is his only production in recent years, but definitely a captivating surprise of his artistry and unique performing style.

Overall, the CD is outstanding in many areas - performance, recording technique, selection and arrangement of songs. The hard work can be appreciated in every single detail relating to the above areas. This is a recording of sheer power, excellent standards in digital recording and great music. A sure feast for the ears."

Glenn Astarita
All About Jazz

If you're a percussion enthusiast, or perhaps enjoy tapping your fingers on the kitchen table every so often and thought you've heard every world beat and Afro-Cuban conga lick there is to offer, - then you might consider checking out Chinese master percussionist Yim Hok-Man. Here, the Chinese conservatory trained rhythmic ace takes you on a whirlwind tour of Oriental style rhythms with Poems Of Thunder! Newly released and beautifully recorded for NAXOS' entry into the world music market, this recording provides a stylized view of Chinese percussion practices and techniques for soloing, and within the realm of traditional Oriental motifs and orchestrations. Yim Hok-Man performs "Drum Music" from various regions of China and it's various sects or tribes as he utilizes various indigenous instruments large and small. Throughout, Yim Hok-Man demonstrates remarkable discipline whether pounding a large kettle-like drum with ritualistic precision or syncopating complex strokes into meaningful and somewhat tuneful patterns. Mr. Hok-Man also engages in a little call and response with a large ensemble on the piece titled, "The Garden Of Hundreds Of Flowers" - featuring gorgeous Oriental themes, subtle interludes and ferocious unison lines with the instrumentalists. With "The Lion That Has Just Woken (Cantonese Music)", master Hok-Man adds a touch of whimsy via his deft mallet work on a high pitched set of vibes while also steering the ensemble through tightly integrated patterns and themes. Yet there's much more to be found within the body of these eight thoroughly interesting pieces. No doubt, Yim Hok-Man is a sagacious master of Oriental percussion as this recording offers a glaring perspective of Chinese drum music and should also serve as required listening for those who need to broaden their musical and/or rhythmic vocabularies.

Harvey Neo
The Flying Inkpot

"If Chinese music is at best neglected and at worst marginalised then its percussive variant is even more unheard of. Nonetheless, this CD collection of Chinese percussion is an excellent microcosmic illustration of the varied sounds of Chinese music. Liner notes in both English and Chinese gave helpful information on the pieces and even illustrate the orchestral layout of certain pieces.

Though the two main groups of Chinese percussion instruments are drums or gu (say "ghoo" - large version above left), gongs or luo ("loo-aw" - picture above right) - the available range of instruments easily runs into the hundreds. I am thus delighted to hear some very obscure percussion instruments in this collection.

Notwithstanding the inclusion of such obscure instruments, for the unlikely few who may be bored with track after track of percussion - a few tracks have the accompaniment of the Central Virtuosi Orchestra. There is very little to complain with regard to the quality of play and recording for both CDs.

It is a small pity too that no more recent percussion pieces were included in the collection. The only post-1990s piece is perhaps Poem of Chinese Drum (opening track of CD) composed by Li Zhengui and Tan Dun. The latter, a past winner of the Grawemeyer Award for music composition, is of course renowned for his high profile composition of Symphony 1997: Heaven Earth Mankind. Another notable exclusion is percussion music with religious or spiritual origins. But these are ultimately minor complaints. I can offer no reasons not to purchase the CD unless one does not wish to be inducted to the world of Chinese percussion."

John Cho

This CD contains both percussion-only set pieces and music from other arenas (such as Beijing Opera), where the percussion accompanies a larger orchestra. Despite the title (in Chinese the cover reads "Number One Drum"), the pieces where the drum plays a supporting role outshine the "show-off" numbers. The problem with the percussion-only pieces is that they sound too precise, composed, somewhat sterile. The tasteful studio sound does not help. The more raucous orchestral numbers, especially the final cut, "Triumphal Return of the Fishing Boats," are much more exhilarating.

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