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David Denton
David's Review Corner, February 2016

Born in 1928, Du Mingxin first studied music in his native China before moving to Russia in the 1950’s, where he became frequented with the style of Western music. On his return to his homeland he became professor at the Central Conservatoire in Beijing, influencing a new and important generation of Chinese composers in the years that followed. As was the custom in China in the second half of the 20th century, he collaborated with other composers in creating major scores that included the ballet, The Mermaid, and the stage work, The Red Detachment of Women. The two concertos, here recorded for the first time, date from the 1980’s and are recorded by the soloists who gave them their first performance. Both in the conventional ‘classical’ three movement format, the Violin Concerto is unusual for a Chinese score of that period in having no declared programme. With plenty to show the technical brilliance of the soloist, the work remains in the memory for the beauty of the violin writing, particularly in the central Largo. As a whole the concerto dates back to mainstream Western music of the early 20th century seen through Chinese eyes. The Piano Concerto was first heard in Hong Kong in a concert to mark the composer’s Sixtieth birthday. Here we are in the more modern world of Prokofiev, with acerbic harmonies, the opening movement bristling with solo virtuosity spaced out with passages of poetic musing. A very spacious central Adagio, leads to a short and almost moto perpetuo finale. The soloists, Takako Nishizaki and Jenő Jandó, best known for their prolific Naxos recordings, were in fine form for sessions in 1982 and 1988, the Hungarian recording wearing its years particularly well. © 2016 David’s Review Corner

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