CHIAYU (b.1975): Urban Sketches for Clarinet, Cello and Piano, Huan for Solo Harp, Journey to the West for String Quartet (Ciompi Quartet), 12 Signs for Solo Viola, Sparkle for 2 Trumpets, Horn, Trombone and Tuba, Zhi for Violin and Piano.
Catalogue Number: 05Q087
Description: This Taiwanese-born, American-domiciled composer incorporates a wide variety of techniques into a synthetic idiom ideal for the expression of diverse, vivid extramusical imagery, a common feature of these works. Journey is a substantial string quartet based on a Ming dynasty Chinese tale, featuring the cunning and mischievous Monkey King. For different episodes in the story, the music adopts a huge diversity of styles, from a kind of Second-Viennese sounding atonality, via extended passages in harmonics and timbral effects, to extended techniques including percussive sounds, finally settling on a mid-20th century tonal idiom for the resolution of the story. The twelve pieces representing the signs of the Chinese zodiac are similarly diverse, with traditional and non-traditional playing techniques combined with scales suggesting pentatonic music next to freely atonal material and sound effects. Sparkle, an occasional piece, is a lively brass quintet in a breezy, American-sounding largely tonal idiom, though with some extended techniques and a sense of humor, characteristics also found in the inventive and exhilarating portarit of New York, Urban Sketches, with its evocations of Latin, jazz and popular music and the electronic incorporation of 'found' street sounds into the lively counterpoint of styles. Members of the Curtis Institute of Music and of the Philadelphia Orchestra.