Tian Jiang | Peacock Dance

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Peacock Dance

by Tian Jiang

Highly tuneful, virtuosic piano and instrumental music from the years of the Great Chinese Cultural Revolution (1966 – 76) - in highly evocative arrangements for piano, accompanied by traditional Chinese instruments.
Genre: World: Asian
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Tracks

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1. XinJiang Dance
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4:56 album only
2. Peacock Suite : The Love of Namonuna
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6:00 album only
3. Peacock Suite: The Hunt
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0:50 album only
4. Peacock Suite: Love Serenade
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4:35 album only
5. Peacock Suite: Peacock Dance
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3:58 album only
6. Peacock Suite: The Wedding
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1:41 album only
7. Chairman Mao's Visit to Our Village
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4:43 album only
8. The Fisherman and the Clam
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5:34 album only
9. The Wind Blows from the North
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2:47 album only
10. The Shining Red Star
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2:24 album only
11. Spring Wind and Baboo Flute
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2:28 album only
12. The Red Detachment of Women
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2:31 album only
13. Children's Suite
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7:59 album only
14. Tea Flower and Butterfly
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3:13 album only
15. Prelude Telling You
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3:00 album only
16. The Cowherd and his Flute
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2:12 album only
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Highly tuneful, virtuosic piano and instrumental music from the years of the Great Chinese Cultural Revolution (1966 – 76). Repertoire is almost completely unknown in the West. Album features officially sanctioned ”propaganda music,” compositions originating from tribal Chinese minorities, and works by politically persecuted and even imprisoned composers. Several tracks feature Tian's highly evocative arrangements for piano, accompanied by traditional Chinese instruments like the pipa (lute), bamboo flutes, and Chinese hand drum.

Tian Jiang was born in Shanghai during the great famine that was part of the Cultural Revolution. His father, a singer of Western opera, and his mother, a dentist, were condemned as "intellectuals." Although a child prodigy, beginning his study of piano at five and his performance career at seven, Tian was denied admission to music school because of his family background. He made his professional debut at age thirteen at the Shanghai Spring International Music Festival, and graduated from the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. One of the first artists allowed to leave China after the Cultural Revolution, Tian continued his studies at the Juilliard School, and now resides in New York City.

Exciting audiences in Europe, Asia, North and South America, Tian has appeared with the Royal Philharmonic of London, the Houston Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Orchestra of St. Luke's, the Hong Kong Philharmonic, the Singapore Symphony, the Philippine Philharmonic, the Singapore Symphony, Shanghai Symphony and the Central Philharmonic of China.

• "A formidable technique ... shining, crisp, energetic and colorfully illuminated…” New York Times
• Solo pianist / composer Tian [Jiang], who hails from China … has a notable career as a classical performer." Billboard

• "In the outer movements all of the barnstorming moments were brilliantly dispatched. But it was the tenderness of Tian's playing of the beautiful slower tunes which lingered in the audience's memory". London Times

• “China's Tian Jiang is one of the world's most exciting pianists …”
South China Morning Post, Hong Kong


Reviews


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Leana


This album's my fav purchase for fall/winter 2008. Song #16 infects me with happiness whenever I listen. I can't believe the work was on sale for $5! I'll definitely watch for new works.

Joshua Cheek

“Peacock Dance” is ESSENTIAL for all students of 20th Century Chinese Music!
TIAN Jiang: Peacock Dance

First things first; This is a delightful and beautifully performed album. But the CD description on the website (“…music from the years of the Great Chinese Cultural Revolution…”) is not completely accurate. True, all of the composers represented here DID live through the Cultural Revolution, and several were even imprisoned on an assortment of political charges, however HE Luding’s “The Cowherd and His Flute” dates from 1934 (and was highly praised by the Russian composer Alexander Tcherepnin) and DING Shande’s popular “Children’s Suite” date from 1953. The composition dates of other works were difficult to ascertain but it may be assumed that with the exception of “Chairman Mao’s Visit to Our Village (track 7), “The Shining Red Star” (track 10) and the excerpt (not identified as the “Happy Women Soldiers” sequence on the disc) from DU Mingxin’s celebrated Model Ballet, “The Red Detachment of Women (track 12), the balance of the program dates from either before or after the “Ten Years of Chaos.”

China’s relationship with the music of the west has always been contentious and politically-charged. Perhaps this is nowhere seen more clearly than in the fluctuating fortunes of the humble piano. Alternately reviled as bourgeois furniture and later harnessed as a tool for China’s modernization, the piano was eventually employed as a vehicle for the Cultural Revolution itself. And to this extent, the present program provides an accurate and beautifully performed overview of this turbulent history.

Without question, the “Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution” is one of the great tragedies of the 20th century. And yet, of my Chinese colleagues whom I have spoken with about this period, and as is evidenced in the biographies and works of those composers who grew up during this time, the Cultural Revolution has an ambiguous value that remains to be thoroughly understood. While it was JIANG Qing’s goal to sweep away every vestige of China’s feudal history, replacing it with Revolutionary Model works suitable for the masses, it was the experiences of those young musicians who were “sent down” to live and work among the peasants who have become some of the most celebrated (and utterly UN-proletarian) modern Chinese composers – TAN Dun, ZHOU Long, SHENG Bright, CHEN Yi and others. Similarly, the production of the Model Operas, Concertos and Ballets and their ubiquitous and exclusive performance throughout the Cultural Revolution served to introduce a whole generation of young Chinese musicians to western musical instruments, western concert culture and western musical aesthetics , albeit, with “Chinese characteristics.” To this end, TIAN has provided expert and persuasive examples by way of the current program.
Of the music, the works by HE Luding (track 16), DING Shande (track 13) and DU Mingxin (track 12) take pride of place and are essential repertoire. The Prelude “Telling You” by ZHU Jianer is a lovely, wistful miniature that will come as a surprise to those familiar with wither the composer’s more bombastic “Socialist Realist” scores or his highly adventurous 12 Tone/Serial Symphonies.

Several tracks are performed in arrangements with traditional Chinese instruments (tracks 1, 7 and 9). We are told that these are arrangements made by TIAN and sound utterly convincing. If this is in fact representative of an authentic performance practice, it is certainly deserving of future recordings.

The arrangements of songs dating directly from the period of the Cultural Revolution (tracks 7, 9 and 10) are given the full treatment – with rushing arpeggios, thundering octaves and full-voices chords and are representative of a peculiarly proletarian form of cocktail music that was known in China as “Light Music.” A little ripe perhaps, but a lovely background for any drinks served with little umbrellas in them. “The Wind Blows from the North” and “The Shining Red Star” are known to virtually every Chinese of a certain age.

The balance of the program consists of the five-movement Peacock Suite by YANG Zheng Wei and several smaller character pieces. All of these works are representative of what has been described as “Pentatonic Romanticism” –the prevailing style of composition prior to and during the Cultural Revolution. While eschewing chromaticism and sounding rather like Chinese-flavored Grieg or MacDowell miniatures, these works are utterly charming and grow even more attractive with repeated hearings.

Conclusion? TIAN performs this program with sincerity, authenticity and considerable artistry. “Peacock Dance” is ESSENTIAL (and one of the few discs available!) for all students of Chinese Music in the 20th century, those interested in the aesthetics of the Cultural Revolution and the casual listener interested in exploring a small and accessible sampling of what China’s composers have produced. Highly enjoyable and highly recommended!