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Alide Kohlhaas
The Seniors Review, March 2013

One of my favorite pieces of Chinese orchestral music that mixes western and Chinese musical traditions is The Butterfly Lovers. It is based on an old Chinese tale. I have several versions but couldn’t resist a performance by The New Zealand Symphony with Chen Jie on piano in a new interpretation beautifully played. Also on the CD is the piano concerto, “The Yellow River,” which also mixes western and Chinese styles composed during the second Sino-Japanese War. © 2013 The Seniors Review

David Hurwitz, January 2013

Chen plays both works quite well, especially The Butterfly Lovers, which she presumably tailored to her particular ability to project lyrical melodies decorated by sparkling passagework. The New Zealand Symphony under Carolyn Kuan accompanies with thorough professionalism, and the participants are well recorded. © 2013 Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, October 2012

Butterfly Lovers has become China’s most popular classical violin concerto, a fact much helped by the performances of the Naxos violinist, Takako Nishizaki. Chen Gang was to later make a version for piano and orchestra, now edited by the disc’s soloist, Chen Jie. The romantic story is of two lovers who become separated, one of them dying and the other jumping into his grave from where they emerge as two butterflies, now united for ever. Using Western classical music as it’s basis, it uses Chinese melodies that would have pleased the Communist leadership of the time. Whether this version is equal to the beauty and singing quality of the violin is a matter of personal taste, the general texture of the piano writing leaning towards Tchaikovsky in the big gestures. But as easy listening it makes a pleasing work. The first three movements of The Yellow River Concerto is much from the same mould, the Chinese ‘committee’ of composers sketching the various moods of the river from its placid flowing moments to the anger of its passing in the third movement. The rather sentimental second movement comes straight from Hollywood, but as light entertainment it is very pleasing. Then comes the fourth movement, Defend the Yellow River, where we move to politically correct music, its closing triumph of the people joining in victory. For the soloist the work has some very effective writing taking Rachmaninov as its starting point, at times calling for a degree of virtuosity. The American trained multi-award-winning Chinese pianist, Chen Jie, has all the firepower for the big moments, and the New Zealand orchestra, with Carolyn Kuan conducting, offer a powerful and atmospheric backdrop with ample patriotic pomp in The Yellow River finale… © 2012 David’s Review Corner

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