Bun-Ching Lam


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Composer and pianist Bun-Ching Lam (China, 1954) moved to California in 1976. She frequently incorporated Chinese instruments such as the pipa (four-stringed lute) into the format of Western classical music.

Her main compositions include: the piccolo sonata Bittersweet Music (1981), the violin sonata Bittersweet Music II (1981), Lang Tao Sha (1981) for violin, harp and strings, After Spring (1983) for two pianos, Lu (1983) for percussion, Impetus (1987) for Chinese instruments, Social Accidents (1988) for small chamber orchestra and percussion, Another Spring (1988) for flute, cello and piano, the ballet EO 9066 (1989), Saudades de Macau (1989) for percussion, harp and strings, Similia/Dissimilia (1990) for trombone and electric violin, L'air du Temps (1991) for string quartet, Last Spring (1992) for piano quartet, Run (1993) for solo pipa, the opera The Child God (1993), based on "The Creation of the Gods", the pipa concerto Sudden Thunder (1994), Like Water (1995) for viola, piano and percussion, Fa (1996) for guitar quartet, Six Phenomena (1998) for piano, the eight-movement Omi Hakkei (2000) for harp, flute, viola (the classic Debussy trio) plus dizi, erhu, xiao and zheng, Song of the Pipa (2001) for pipa, harp, percussion and strings, the chamber opera Wenji (2001), The Journey (2002) for soprano and Chinese instruments, Bolts of Melody (2003) for baritone and pipa, Atlas (2004) for Chinese, Middle East and Western instruments, Saudades de Macau II (2005) for piano, harp, percussion and strings, Poestenkill Pastorale (2006), Piccolo Concertino (2008) for chamber orchestra, Fountain of Lilau (2009) for piano, percussion and strings, Five Views of Macao (2010) for celesta, harp, percussion and strings, etc.

Mountain Clear Water Remote (CRI, 1996) contains After Spring (1983) for two pianos, Bittersweet Music (1981) for piccolo, Lu (1983) for percussion, Another Spring (1988) for piano, flute and cello, and a version of Last Spring (1992) for violin, violin, viola, cello and piano.

Like Water (Tzadik, 1997) contains the 16-movement Like Water (1995) for viola, piano and percussion. The Child God (Tzadik, 1998) contains the opera The Child God, a new version of Autumn Sound (1982) and The Great River Flows East for tenor and percussion.

The double-disc Heidelberg Concerts (Mutable, 2011) contains Run, a stream of consciousness for pipa; the three-lieder set Nachtgesange for soprano, saxophone, trombone, koto and percussion, halfway between expressionist theater and Chinese opera; the lied Lotostraume for tenor and harp; Omi Hakkei (2000), a subdued and oneiric flux of delicate timbres in the first movement, a nostalgic melody in the second, a dissonant cartoon soundtrack in the third, and then progressively more abstract and detached; Lu for percussion, one of her most rarefied pieces, a naked soundscape visited by sporadic tones, but mostly silent; the six-movement Phenomena (1998) for piano, the brooding and resigned violin soliloquy of Bittersweet Music 2, Like Water for piano, violin/viola and percussion, a poem of hesitation, uncertainty and unexpected randomness, another slow and absent-minded journey through a desolate, warped and mostly silent soundscape. Lam acted fundamentally like an impressionist painter, but one who is in love with black and white still life photography, the ultimate minimalist artist, who cares more for the minuscule images and events than for the whole picture.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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