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Jack Sullivan
American Record Guide, July 2017

This is a generous album, with 70 minutes of music, including a chamber concerto and a folkloric string quartet. In these vivid performances, Les Amis Shanghai bursts with color or—as this unusual music sometimes requires—deconstructs into near-silence. © 2017 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide



Marc Rochester
MusicWeb International, February 2017

Counterpoint of Times is a four-movement work for a conventional wind quintet in which Jia shows his fascination with musical theory and structure. It is tightly organised and coherently devised, employing a musical language which is unrelentingly atonal but which includes some effective instrumental gestures.

Only in the most recent work on the disc, The Prospect of Coloured Desert, does the multi-instrument Ensemble Les Amis Shanghai include traditional Chinese instruments—the Sheng and the Pipa. Commissioned by the Silk Road project, this work depicts a number of richly descriptive verses, and the music is clearly wholly concerned with evoking this visual imagery. As with all the performances on the disc, this is a model of concentrated and committed effort which serves the composer and his music extremely well. © 2017 MusicWeb International Read complete review



David Denton
David's Review Corner, December 2016

For the past thirty years, Jia Daqun has been regarded as one of China’s most acclaimed composers with his mix of West European atonality and Chinese folk. Those two influences mix in Flavour of Bashu, the themes coming from Sichuan Opera where the pitch indeterminacy lends itself to the atonality that came into Western music at the beginning of the 20th century, here combined with fleeting moments when it embraces the popular Western culture of yesteryear. Scored for small ensemble of six players it is heavily reliant on percussion instruments to create the sounds of China. I am always suspicious of music where we read of a mathematical formula that has been used to form the score. I know I will be described as an old-fashioned reactionary, but to my innocent ears I found it difficult to like anything in the four movements of Counterpoint of Times. The two movements of the String Quartet is certainly unusual in texture, but I not only attuned to Daqun, but I immediately went back to the beginning of the work to rejoin with these new and provocative sounds as left-hand fingers slide around strings. I then found myself creating pictures of a certain sadness in a work that moves so slowly, the knocking on the instrument’s wood suggesting the inevitable passing of our lives towards death, the final movement set in a world of turmoil before it grinds to a halt, and amid sobs we return to our creator. It is the composer who provides the picture for The Prospect of Coloured Desert, a quite short work for violin, cello, Sheng and percussion, the scenario depicting camels journeying in the desert. All four works must make considerable demands on the performers, and I admire their dedication. © 2016 David’s Review Corner





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