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Yuanlin Chen

June 25, 2016


Sunbow   Yuanlin Chen : Primary Voice (CN,2003)***°'


Yuanlin Chen delivered with this album a completely different voice than anything I have heard before, based upon Chinese traditional music and folk music and contemporary classical music with some ideas from electronic music equipment and a progressive touch because of its original approach and emotional involvement. Yuanlin Chen received his masters degree at the Central Conservatory of Music in Bejing but also received a Ph.D. in music from the State University of New York. Clarinet as the dancer with exotic percussion are returning fundaments, voices are like Chinese-operatic/theatrical expressions, while other arrangements of Chinese instruments and flutes are handling a world in between Chinese and progressive, where some electronic programming add contemporary or even avant-garde touches (of R.I.O. nature). Just on one track, “The Tribal Dance”  the electronic programming is used as a modern electro fundament with looped repetitions, not neglecting the other elements, but just using a different fundament. A rewarding album with an expressive wide range in sounds and instruments which is rarely heard or used.



Innova  Yuanlin Chen : Away From Xuan (CN,2009)***°


On “Away From Xuan”, played by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, conducted by the composer, loud contrasts bang with the orchestra, starting with its classical full-orchestra with lots of drama, and with an emotional violin solo, other themes become incorporated, a caravan of different elements whirl (literally, with violins, on walking level) into the dramatic setting, like a new version of a Hollywood caravan in exile movie, with lots of human movement to be noticed in the scene/screen. The speed and tension to a degree is increased in the caravan with orchestra, percussion and brass. But at the same time the orchestra seems to approach first carefully landscapes of the opposite, an exotic oasis with lush orchestral arrangements and exotic sounding percussion and lighter, pleasant almost belly-danceable arrangements. The orchestra brings this further and adapts these new elements into the direction of full power again in all its activity, towards a more happy sounding dramatic and power conclusion.


“Wondering Along the journey” is the sort of composition I wanted to check out Yanlin Chen for further (-after discovering his music on a Sonic Circuits compilation-), a larger composition in 5 parts of a mixed ensemble with western and eastern musical instruments, also mixed in its approach, which is not an easy task, but which is organised with solo voices, harmonies and melody take-overs allowing different voices, and restricted contrasts within the cooperative frames. Some parts, like the “Larghetto” give more attention to the founding composition, which is slowly taken over by the counter-part.


“Chasing the sun” is a piece in 4 parts for guitar quartet, played by the Minneapolis Guitar Quartet and recorded live. It has combinations of atonal and tonal music, seems to have just a few Chinese tonalities coming in too, sounds partly contemporary, partly classical guitar, with percussive accents here and there. It is spontaneous and naturally progressing despite strange discovering elements. The piece describes a legend about the quest of a man for the origins of the sun, in the west, which the composer despite the unreachable ending, describes like a hopeful quest for the seeker enjoying the findings during a difficult road.


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