Album: Yundi, The Red Piano (EMI Classical)

 

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The Independent Culture

An instructive contrast with Music from the Machine Age: while the change in European culture was diversely reflected by composers, upheavals in Chinese culture seem to have inspired the most mawkish of music, notably the "Yellow River Concerto" based on a 1939 cantata by Xian Xinghai, itself based on traditional folk melodies, and recast during the Cultural Revolution by composers apparently determined to smother it in syrup.

It's grossly sentimental when not impressionistic, though Yundi's dulcimer-like trilling in the third movement is impressive. The dozen or so shorter pieces are heavy on the wistful rippling, with bursts of jolly industry bringing to mind the cheerfully labouring masses.

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