Born in 1955, Xiaogang Ye is regarded as one of China's leading contemporary composers, whose works have drawn attention both in the West and in the Far East for three decades. On the present disc Ye's music is championed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, under the eminent conductor José Serebrier who are joined by the celebrated violinist Cho-Liang Lin and soprano Hila Plitmann. In 2002 Ye was commissioned to write a symphony in celebration of the Wuhan Orchestra's tenth anniversary. The city of Wuhan is situated in what was once the ancient State of Chu (c. 1030224 BC), which has lent its name to the work. 'Chu' consists of seven movements, during which Chinese instruments such as the pipa (Chinese lute), sheng (mouth organ) and the erhu ('Chinese violin') appear alongside the traditional symphony orchestra. Two movements also include a wordless soprano part. A personal inspiration informs The Last Paradise, a work which may initially seem a response to the Western violin concerto, but is in fact more akin to a late-Romantic tone poem. Here, Ye has drawn from his experiences during the Cultural Revolution, when he was deported to a small village. Conditions were so harsh that the villagers used to celebrate deaths instead of mourning them, considering death the escape from a painful life and the start of a journey towards a final paradise.
Xiaogang Ye's east-meets-west soundworld is as intriguing as to beguiling. Well worth investigating. **** --BBC Music Magazine, Aug'16
Music of extraordinary beauty and real distinction, played with conviction and intensity. --Music Web, July '16