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Yao Chen’s music in the Media:

Air, for violin solo

Air, which made its world debut at the 2015 City of London Festival, takes equal inspiration from the church-tone qualities of J.S. Bach’s violin sonatas and the romantic lines of Eugene Ysaye’s solo sonatas.

 “Its character is song-like and a good fit for my style – warm, tender and otherworldly. It is a piece infused with poignant longing.”-Siow Lee Chin

                                                                                                           – The Straits Times                                                                                                                       

Two Poems, for orchestra

Brilliant orchestral color also marked Yao’s Two Poems for chamber orchestra. The orchestra captured the haunting atmosphere of the first movement, Sough. Hotoda’s gestural language produced a beautifully contoured performance of the second movement, Glowing Autumn, which bears Ravel’s timbral stamp…

                                                                                                          -Columbus Dispatch                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Emanations of Tara, for violin, cello, clarinet, piano and pipa

…par­tic­u­larly expres­sive and direct… There’s an incred­i­ble sense of spa­cious­ness and open­ness in his music: it was about con­vey­ing an inten­sity of the emo­tion…

-Civitas Ensemble


Yearning, for zheng and double bass

…intensely driven…In Chen Yao’s Yearning, the powerful storms that erupted from Deng’s delicate-looking guzheng more than equaled the expressive depth of Armstrong’s double bass.

-Chicago Classical Review


O…What an Awakening, for soprano, violin, cello, flute, clarinet, and piano

Yao Chen’s O… What an Awakening turned out to be a study of the nature of performance. It was as much an exploration of the relationships among conductor, vocalist, and ensemble as one of the logic, grammar, and rhetoric behind the score itself.  Chen seemed [interested] in the interplay of sound and silence. The audience was led into that interplay by the composer having the conductor, soloist, and ensemble each lapse into similar periods of “going through the motions.” This created a sense of music being present without being heard, rather in the manner of a Zen koan.

-San Francisco’s

O… What an Awakening had a strong theatrical element. Musically, it amounted to an effort to reconceive everyday sounds through instrumental and vocal resources. However, the visual impressions of the discipline through which those resources captured material that was originally spontaneous were clearly part of the audience experience. One was thus drawn into a world that was neither mundane nor crafted according to some elaborate plan, a world in which the audience could experience the “making process” with greater intimacy. That intimacy was then challenged by a silence that intrudes upon the sounds themselves but not on the physical motions of the performers…

Stephen Smoliar SF Classical Music Examiner September 28, 201

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