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Isang Yun - Works for Cello and Piano [Kairos Music - 2022]


Works for Cello and Piano is a CD release which presents the listener with five works from Koren born composer Isang Yun. His output here moves between rapidly sliding ‘n’ tensely simmer cello and orchestrated works, onto more jagged to angular piano and cello work-outs.

Isang Yun was born in the year 1917 in Sansei, Chōsen – which is now part of South Korea. He began to study violin at the age of thirteen- fairly soon composing his first works. Despite his father's opposition (poet Yun Ki-hyon) he went on to pursue a career in music, starting formal training two years later as a violinist in a military band. During the 1940’s he got arrested and jailed for two months for his involvement with the Korean independence movement. By the mid to late 1950s, he was studying composition at Paris Conservatory under the likes of Tony Aubin and Pierre Revel. And he finally settled in West Germany in the early ’60s. His work utilizes both modern classical darting tropes & angularity with nods back towards traditional Korean music.

This collection starts with 1976’s “Cello Concerto” which is for cello and orchestration. This four-part work sees intensely sawing bows ‘n’ slices moving against a backdrop of simmering bombastic, to sparklingly brooding orchestration and percussion. As we move through the disc we have 1964’s “Nore” which ties together tolling and sparsely cascading piano notation, with manically bow and violently swoon cello playing. With the disc playing out with 1992’s” Espace I” which sees jarring, though at times ornate piano flourishes moving with cello work that shifts from rapid bowing, onto more moodily expressive, though vivid and neck darting.

Isang Yun work is both emotional expressive, and tautly darting- yet at the same time, there are moments of both elegance and angularity within his work. Works for Cello and Piano is a fine snapshot of his work for cello and piano, though he was fairly prolific in composing work for other classical mediums too- such as orchestra, singular instrumentalist up to quintets, choral/ vocal work, and even a few operas- so I’d certainly be intrigued to hear what he can do in these settings too. 

Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5

Roger Batty
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