Zhan-hao He/Chen, Gang - Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto (梁祝协奏曲)(Label: Marco Polo)
Takako Nishizaki (Artist, Violinist),
Anonymous (Composer),
Zhan-hao He/Chen, Gang (Composer),
Jie Jiao (Composer),
Youxian Ma (Composer),
Mao Yuen (Composer),
Yong-Cheng Qin (Composer),
Hankun Sha (Composer),
Kenneth Jean (Conductor),
Czecho-Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra (Orchestra)

A fascinating violin concerto co-written by two students of Shanghai Conservatory of Music, Chen Gang and He Zhanhao in 1958.

Reputed to many as the sole interpreter of “Butterfly Lovers”, Nishizaki’s solo instrumental voice soars like no others. Virtuosity aside, she conjures a tone that is warm and emotionally charged, her instrument dwells and weeps with a right balance of intimacy yet doesn’t over do it.

Kenneth Jean’s powerful yet graceful interpretation of this concerto is another reason for recommendation. His attention to details is meticulous, refine yet with colour.

The Czecho-Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra playing is superb, magnificent and utterly enjoyable. They carry the audience through the story with sweeping lyricism and enchanting

One of my favourite moments of the recording is when the violin finishes its last plaintive phrase, and the whole orchestra bursts into a powerful tutti - that is when the tomb opens and in plunges Zhu Yingtai. The music swells to the most important climax of the concerto. This is a resolution that is so close to my heart and I am often found marveling at Zhu Yingtai’s courageous plunge.

Seconds later, the flute and the harp emerged to imbue the recapitulation with a celestial bliss.
Both the conductor and his orchestra had performed this ending with the most breathtaking contrast.

A fusion of Chinese melodies with Western instrumentation and tonalities, this recording from Marco Polo is my favourite version of this beautiful concerto.

~ Written by Boon Sin Ler 

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