Author Topic: Tan Dun  (Read 2511 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Martin Lind

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 128
Tan Dun
« on: July 12, 2008, 05:06:15 PM »
Today I listened to music of a composer completely new to me. I not even knew his name. It was Tan Dun, a Chinese composer, aged about 50 .

It was a nice evenig in 3 Sat, a German TV culture channel shared by German, Swizz and Austrian TV. First came a concert with 3 Tan Dun works, a part of an opera, which I didn't like very much, then a concert for a Chinese instrument ( forgot the name) which I liked more and then a piano concerto which I liked most. The famous Lang Lang was playing and the WDR radio symphony orchestra of Cologne was playing. I think the concert was yesterday and broadcasted today. It was a nice evening after all, even if I was not completely convinced, even of the piano concerto.

After that came a film about Tan Dun with biographical background and more music which was pretty interesting, even if not every question was answered. He had a hard youth in Maos China, very hard work in the fields and all that. Later, in 1989, he came to New York, where he still lives.

So it was a nice evening, 3 and a half hours alltogether with Tan Dun and I recorded the whole stuff and will maybe hear the whole thing once again in some time. Do you know Tan Dun and what is your opinion. Obviously he had some success, I even heard that his opera was played at the New York Met.


Offline Brewski

  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 12998
  • "Man With No Shadow" by Makoto Tojiki (2009)
Re: Tan Dun
« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2008, 03:41:21 AM »
I've heard two large works by Tan Dun, which have left a decidedly mixed impression.  His opera at the MET, The First Emperor, has a stunning opening sequence with twelve Chinese drummers, each playing a large drum with pairs of rocks.  Nearby another musician is gently tapping a set of ceramic tuned bowls, and yet another is at the zheng, a sort of zither-like instrument.  Against the backdrop of the enormous set, the effect was quite impressive.  But after this opening, the piece eventually begins to sag, with less and less musical invention as it goes on.  My two cents: he should have considered scoring the entire thing for just percussion and vocalists.  That still doesn't solve the underlying dramatic problem--the piece is really too static to be an opera--but it would have been fascinating.

More successful is his multimedia piece, The Map, originally written for Yo-Yo Ma and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and available on DVD with Anssi Kartunnen and the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, conducted by the composer.  In a small rural Chinese town, he sets up a huge array of musicians in an East-meets-West spectacle overlooking a beautiful lake.  The physical setup is impressive, and the music takes its cue from traditional folk music of the region, some of which sounds almost contemporary.  I actually found the whole project pretty engrossing. 


"Do you realize that we're meteorites; almost as soon as we're born, we have to disappear?"

~Iannis Xenakis

Twitter: @BruceHodgesNY

Offline CRCulver

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 530
Re: Tan Dun
« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2008, 09:10:39 AM »
Tan Dun is a wildly inconsistent composer, veering between lame World music crossover gimmickry for the lowest common denominator (Symphony 1997, Bitter Love) and authentic combinations of East meets West (Out of Peking Opera, On Taoism).

I second the recommendation of The Map, that's an entertaining work. Don't believe the hype on the documentary included on that DVD, however. Fenghuang is not an obscure, isolated village. It's a major Chinese tourist town with hawkers everywhere and the local minorities almost completely wiped out.


  • Guest
Re: Tan Dun
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2014, 08:28:30 AM »
<a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win"></a>

Tan Dun, «The Tears of Nature»
Concert for Percussion and Orchestra (2012)

Martin Grubinger (percussion) / Wiener Symphoniker / Krzysztof Urbanski

Performed on Friday, April 25th, 2014 at the Grosser Saal of the Wiener Konzerthaus