SHIH (b.1950): Crossing the River for Ensemble, A Measure for Nine for Violin, Erhu, Viola da Gamba, Lute, Pipa, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Harpsichord and Percussion, A Measure for Piano and Strings (Anika Vavic [piano]), Travels for Soprano and Chamber Orchestra (Anu Komsi [soprano]), The Separation for Orchestra (National Symphony Orchestra Taiwan; Chien Wen-Pin).
Catalogue Number: 10O086
Description: Shih's music seeks to express intense psychological states, often beginning in despair or distress, but offering at least some hope of progress toward light and redemption. The substantial orchestral pieces, Crossing the River and Separation, consist of organically evolving soundscapes, punctuated by tolling or thundering percussion effects, with, as one commentator has written 'almost complete abandonment of melody and measure' and indeed a considerable degree of license afforded to the performers in matters of pitch and ensemble. Harsh dissonances, clusters and extended techniques abound, and the results are undeniably impressive, especially the massed textures of Separation, with its organ clusters and 1960s-Penderecki sonorism. The A Measure for series consists of works for various ensembles, some with eastern instruments, some with combinations of western instruments typical of different stages of music history, again conjuring pulsating, fluid dreamscapes in sound. The recent Trakl setting Travels presents the sung text calmly intoned against a crystalline, shimmering background of formless, iridescent orchestral texture. Ensemble "Die Reihe"; Georg Fritzsch.