Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Unusual concertos [74]: Sheng

Before the purge of end 2008, one of the most popular topics of this blog was "Unusual concertos", classical concertos for all kinds of instruments and orchestra. I have decided to revive this, aiming for less familiar composers in general. In its original incarnation, I came to 40 different concertante instruments - realizing 70+ this time.

The seventy fourth concerto deals with the sheng (image source). This is one of the oldest Chinese instruments, dating back over 3000 years. It consists of a series of pipes played via a mouthpiece, hence the alternative name of Chinese mouth organ. Not surprisingly, it does not make a frequent appearance in classical music, but famous contemporary South Korean composer Unsuk Chin composed a concerto for it, titled Su. I don't think it has been released on CD yet, but the linked site gives an option to download a performance by Wu Wei with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Ilan Volkov.

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