Electric Shadows: Chinese Film Music

Electric Shadows: Chinese Film Music

by Zhao Jiping

CD

Overview

Zhao Jiping has become China's foremost composer of film scores due to his work in international successes such as Farewell My Concubine and Raise the Red Lantern. This recording finds a German record company traveling to China to record the China Symphony Orchestra playing selections from his scores. There are excerpts from six films, presented out of chronological order: To Live (1993), Sunbird (1997), Ju Dou (1990), Farewell My Concubine (1993), Red Firecracker, Green Firecracker (1993), and Raise the Red Lantern (1991). If one were not aware of the actual chronology, one might assume by listening to the album that Zhao Jiping's work had seen a development from strictly Chinese styles played on traditional Chinese instruments to more Western styles played by a symphony orchestra. In fact, like all film composers, Zhao Jiping fits his music to the style and subject matter of the film. In the cases of To Live, Sunbird, and Ju Dou, this appears to have meant small groupings of traditional instruments, while Farewell My Concubine, Red Firecracker, Green Firecracker, and Raise the Red Lantern called for more elaborately scored music, with the selections from Raise the Red Lantern even featuring a chorus. But even in the larger works, Zhao Jiping retains an affection for single instruments playing slow, contemplative themes. This is program music by definition, but it is also clearly the work of an individual creative artist, and the various pieces hang together and inform each other, creating a cohesive work.

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